SPRINGFIELD – To crack down on prostitution rings posing as “massage therapy spas”, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed House Bill 5891, requiring massage therapist professionals undergo criminal background checks as a condition for licensure.
"By signing this law, we are raising the bar on licensing requirements to protect the public from criminal elements posing as legitimate businesses," said Gov. Blagojevich. “This bill protects both the consumer and the integrity of the industry.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Charles E. Jefferson (D-Rockford) and Sen. James A. DeLeo (D-Chicago), will require massage therapist professionals to be licensed by the State for the first time, and to undergo both state and federal criminal background checks.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and the Illinois Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association have worked together to ensure that criminal elements are eradicated, citing the need to weed out “massage therapy spas” fronting for prostitution rings, from honest, legitimate professionals.
IDFPR will begin processing more than an estimated 4,000 massage therapist applications. After January 1, 2005, massage therapists will not be able to operate in Illinois without a license. Tentative application-licensing fees are set at $175, with a renewal fee of $175 every two years. An electronic criminal background check against Illinois State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation records will screen for sex offenders. Sex offenders will not be granted a license.
“Not only does this legislation aid the consumer and validate this industry’s professionalism, it provides IDFPR with another opportunity to deliver additional services to Illinois consumers without added staff or expense,” said IDFPR Secretary Fernando E. Grillo.
The Governor’s signature on the bill allows IDFPR to move forward with the licensing process.
The law takes effect on January 1st, 2005.