Kansas admirably has stepped up its efforts to fight human trafficking in recent years, but is missing a piece of the enforcement puzzle by failing to regulate massage therapy statewide. All but five states do so, usually by requiring masseuses to have background checks and go through training or obtain certification. A handful of cities in Kansas regulate massage therapy locally; in Wichita, which doesn’t, law enforcement made 11 arrests for illicit massage businesses last year, according to the Kansas Health Institute News Service. The issue is highlighted by cases like one in Lawrence, where a couple charged in late April with crimes including aggravated human trafficking had been able to open a massage business despite being convicted of promoting prostitution in 2013 in Bonner Springs, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. “The challenge with no licensing is people actually come here because they know they don’t have a license,” said Stuart Little, lobbyist for the Kansas chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association. The AMTA has lobbied unsuccessfully in Topeka to establish a regulatory system requiring licenses, instruction, passage of a competency exam and continuing education. Even setting aside the alarming link to human trafficking, the harm that the sham businesses do to the reputation of legitimate massage therapists justifies more serious consideration of regulation at the Statehouse next session. – Rhonda Holman
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