Changes could be coming for massage therapists in South Dakota. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee is set to discuss the bill and its two amendments on Friday.
Olawa Rae-Bruhjell owns the New Leaf BodySpa in Mitchell. In addition to the spa, she also has a licensed massage training facility, recognized by the state.
Rae-Bruhjell trains anywhere from two to six students per year. She says small training facilities in the state, like hers, could be forced out of business if lawmakers don't change a current mandate requiring national accreditation by the summer of 2014.
The expense of the accreditation might not be cost effective.
"I've actually talked with other small schools and all of them have told me that they would be forced out of business because of this law," Rae-Bruhjell said.
In addition to removing the national accreditation piece, Rae-Bruhjell likes other pieces of the legislation that make it affordable for massage therapists to practice in the state.
"The average full time massage therapist makes only $18,000 a year and the cost of education when it’s up to $40,000 is a little unreasonable," Rae-Bruhjell said.
She would also like to see graduates be allowed to work under the supervision of a licensed therapist while waiting for their licenses. That would give the future therapists income during the weeks and sometimes months it takes for the paperwork to get approved.
Rae-Bruhjell says the amendments before lawmakers show collaboration at the capitol in creating one bill that is in the best interest of the state and industry.