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Taking sex out of massage parlors

Two area lawmakers find themselves on opposite sides

Posted: October 5, 2008 7:01 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

Legislators across California lined up to take sex out of massage parlors.

The California Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 731, which passes massage therapy regulation over to the state.

Two local legislators found themselves on different sides of the issue.

The bill is about more than state regulation, it’s about cleaning up the tarnished reputation of the massage industry, said Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita.

Smyth was the lone vote in favor of SB 731. His intention is to clean up the massage industry, Smyth said.

Many people working in massage parlors fronting for sex shops are victims of human trafficking, Smyth said.

“Bringing a little more formality to the process can help eliminate the sex shops and boost the legitimate massage therapy businesses,” he said.

Current regulation is parsed between municipalities and as massage people travel their certification doesn’t, said State Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach.

“This bill is an attempt to make it possible for consumers to know that the massage therapist they are going to is trained properly,” Oropeza said.

Massage therapist will need 500 hours of training at a certified massage therapy school, be
fingerprinted and go through a state licensing process to call or advertise themselves as certified massage therapists.

Those who don’t comply can remain in business but cannot advertise as being certified.

The timing of the bill was perfect considering it comes on the heels of Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Deputies arresting two women for selling sex out of a massage parlor, Smyth said.

“No community is immune from these activities,” he said.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies raided L&V Asia Massage Parlor in Valencia Aug. 12.
California Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, missed the vote Aug. 13 due to medical issues. Her office declined comment on the bill.

California State Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, voted against the bill. McClintock was unavailable for questions from The Signal and his staff declined comment.

California State Sen. George Runner, R-Santa Clarita, missed the Aug. 18 vote due to his wife’s medical condition, said Jana Saastad, spokeswoman.

Runner voted in support of the bill in its original form in May 2008. He supports the latest draft of the bill, Saastad said.

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