AMTA-WA April 2023 Public Policy Report
Prepared by Leslie Emerick, Lobbyist
Cherry blossoms are blooming and it’s beautiful on the Capitol Campus! We are nearing the end of the 105-day “long” session of the legislature which ends on April 23rd, 2023. It’s been quite a session this year with a “new” way of doing business. For the past three years the legislature was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year was the first time they tried a “hybrid” model of testifying in person and virtually. It actually worked very well and fairly smoothly as people have gotten used to most virtual formats.
There are only two weeks of the legislative session left, lawmakers have until 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 12th, to vote bills out of the opposite chambers from where they originated. After that cutoff date, lawmakers will then need to review changes made by the other chamber on bills that are returned. If any amendments from the opposite chamber were added, lawmakers in the chamber where bills were initially introduced must go back and agree to those changes. Some bills are considered “Necessary to implement the budget” and they can be pulled up at any time to pass the final budget.
WA has a biennial legislature and bills that are introduced this year live for 2 years, even if they die this session. At the height of our bill tracking, we have gone from 31 to 16 bills after the last bill cut-offs. Bills that are still alive have survived a number of bill cut-offs and most have been amended as they move through the legislative process. This link is to a short and fun description of a complex process that every bill goes through: How a Bill Becomes a Law
Proposed State Operating Budgets: Both the House (HB 1140) and Senate (SB 5187) have introduced their proposed operating budget bills. The Committee chairs of House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means have had public hearings on the bills and amended them in Executive Session and they have been voted on in their respective houses.
The Senate budget writers released their proposal for a two-year, $69.2 billion operating budget. While $5.1 billion is added in new spending for the 2023-25 biennium, no new taxes or fees are added to provide the new funding and are leaving $3.8 billion for reserves as a safeguard for an economic slowdown. House budget writers released a $69.5 billion operating budget for the two-year, 2023-25 biennium on March 27th. Here is a link to the budget bills and agency detail summaries: https://fiscal.wa.gov/statebudgets/Operatingcurrentproposals
Department of Health (DOH)
Board of Massage: Next meeting dates…links will be provided to attend closer to meeting date.
May 5, 2023 Business meeting
July 14, 2023 Business meeting
September 22, 2023 Business meeting
November 9, 2023 Business meeting
Board of Massage Health Equity Continuing Education Rulemaking
The Board of Massage is working on rulemaking for Health Equity Continuing Education and are at odds with the number of hours they are requesting with the two state massage associations, including AMTA-WA. We agree with WSMTA’s position regarding the Health Equity CEs.
“WSMTA recommends to the Board of Massage, that it change the number of hours required for Health Equity CE back to 2 hours per reporting period – as it had originally voted”.
For the health equity CEs, DOH set minimum standards of 2 hours every 4 years. The state Board of Massage rulemaking goes significantly beyond the minimum standards. The board decided on 4 hours per reporting period, which is every 2 years. There is major concern that it will be difficult for many massage therapists to meet this requirement as there are already problems meeting exiting CE requirements and this will exacerbate the problem.
There was also a “Special Meeting on Tuesday, March 21st that authorized Megan Maxey to move forward to the CR-102 phase of the rulemaking. The education and training rulemaking will include both inclusion of multicultural awareness and addressing possible parameters around online/virtual education. Comments are still being taken by DOH on this rulemaking.
CR-101 filed for massage therapist licensure by endorsement rule: On March 10, 2023, the Board of Massage (board) in conjunction with the Department of Health filed a CR-101 as WSR #23-07-064 with the Office of the Code Reviser proposing to consider amendments to WAC 246-830-035 Licensing by endorsement for out-of-state applicants.This initiates a new rulemaking process for licensing out-of-state applicants. The rules workshop will be held at their May 5th meeting.
CR-103 filed for chapter 246-830 WAC: On March 10, 2023, the Board of Massage (board) in conjunction with the Department of Health (department) filed a CR-103 as WSR #23-07-065 with the Office of the Code Reviser, adopting updates to existing sections of the massage therapy chapter. The updated rules go into effect April 10, 2023. The CR-103 provides the revised rules language.
The Concise Explanatory Statement summarizes differences between the proposed rules and adopted rules and the response to public comments. The updated rules:
• Corrects the name of the national examination,
• Clarify the training requirements for somatic education and intraoral massage education,
• Clarify and modernizes the language in the equipment and sanitation rule,
• Clarify and modernize the language in the hygiene rule.
For more information on these rules, you can email email@example.com. The revised language will also be on the massage therapy webpage at www.doh.wa.gov/massage.