MONTGOMERY — Members of the Joint Interim Sunset Committee voted on Thursday to recommend ending the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy at the end of fiscal year 2024.
Alabama's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.
According to their website, the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy is the established regulatory agency with procedures that ensure the public is protected from the unprofessional, improper, unauthorized, and unqualified practice of massage therapy.
State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) told 1819 News on Thursday, "If you looked at the report from the examiners, there was just a laundry list of things. Some were explained I would say, you know, satisfactorily today but there are a number of things that are not satisfactorily explained."
"The group that's dedicated to ending sex trafficking basically spoke out against the board and said, 'Hey, they don't work with us, and they won't work with us.' It's a very dysfunctional (board), and I think it's just the committee felt that it's time for that group to just have a do-over and let's start this fresh," Givhan said.
Even though the committee recommended sunsetting the board at the end of the 2024 fiscal year, it's still possible the board's existence could be extended by passing legislation in the 2024 legislative session.
"Even though the Sunset Committee has recommended we do sunset it, somebody could still file a bill and try to get it through, but obviously, I would suggest it would be highly frowned upon as it would be circumventing the Sunset Committee. We'll see how all that shakes down. I think we will have a bill to reconstitute it. That's something that I'll probably be carrying," Givhan said.
Keith Warren, executive director of the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy, said in an interview with 1819 News on Thursday, "We have another year. We will continue to strive to correct all the significant issues, work with the committee in any way possible as well as adhering to all of Sen. (Garlan) Gudger's changes in that substitute bill so there's already talk about holding a special meeting as soon as the Governor makes the new appointments and that's it."
"We'll just continue to work and do what they want us to do," Warren said.
State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) has said he plans to run legislation again in the 2024 legislative session that would place many state occupational licensing boards under one state office.
Elliott sponsored legislation in the 2023 session to create a new Occupational Licensing Boards Division within the Alabama Secretary of State's Office. The bill passed out of a Senate committee Elliott chaired but never came up for a vote in the Senate.
Givhan said there's a "little bit bigger drumbeat behind" Elliott's licensing bill going into the 2024 session.
"The problem we're running into is the Secretary of State doesn't really want to take this on. At the end of the day, he's going to have to do what we tell him to, but let's be honest, he's got a lot of friends in the Senate and the House, so he doesn't have to have a lobbyist, he's his own lobbyist," Givhan said.
Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen told 1819 News when the bill was filed in the 2023 session, "Although I understand the purpose of the bill, I do not feel that the Secretary of State's office is the right vehicle for its implementation."
To connect with the story's author or comment, email [email protected].
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.