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HB35 – Targeting Illicit Massage Parlors

HB35 would attempt to regulate certain massage establishments that have become hotbeds of illegal activity, such as prostitution and human trafficking.  The bill would subject these establishments to licensing and inspections.   The bill’s primary sponsor, State Rep. Bryon Short, said  “we learned that there are some massage parlors open late at night, and oftentimes prostitution and other illegal activity are happening. What we found even more disturbing is that we have human trafficking taking place, with women being held against their free will and housed at the parlors.”   Short added “[t]hese illicit parlors are often located in nondescript suburban settings, nestled right in our communities.”

Which begs the question of how these illicit establishments are going to be identified and then regulated in the first place.   Short: “We will enable officials to inspect these facilities for safety and sanitation, respond to complaints and close down these parlors. Our goal is to make it impossible for these kinds of illicit businesses to operate in Delaware and to protect the real, professional massage establishments in our state who have a role in keeping people healthy.”

Alright.  I just wonder if this is redundant duplicative overkill.  Because last time I checked human trafficking, prostitution and other “illegal activity” is already illegal.   So if you have an establishment is engaging in this activity, can’t you already shut it down?   By the look of co-sponsors below, this looks like just an exercise of bipartisanship, where Democrats and Republicans gets to feel good in joining together and voting for this and proving that “yeah, we can work together.”   Because, really, who is voting against this?   If I were in the legislature, I just might to prove a point.


UPDATED: 6/22/2017

SPONSORS: B.Short, Heffernan, LavelleMcDowell, Smyk, Briggs King, Delcollo, Ennis, Hudson, Keeley, Paradee, Poore, Ramone, Richardson, Viola, Williams

YES VOTES: HOUSE: Baumbach, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Briggs King, Carson, Collins, Dukes, Heffernan, Hensley, Hudson, J.Johnson, Q.Johnson, Jaques, Keeley, Kenton, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Miro, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Osienski, Outten, Paradee, Postles, Ramone, B.Short, D.Short, Schwartzkopf, Smith, Smyk, Spiegelman, Viola, Williams, Wilson, Yearick
YES VOTES: SENATE: Everyone but Bushweller.
NO VOTES: HOUSE: Bennett [Gray was absent].
NO VOTES – SENATE: None [Bushweller was absent].
HISTORY: Passed the House 39-1-1. Passed Senate 20-0-1.

STATUS: Waiting on Governor to sign.

6 comments on “HB35 – Targeting Illicit Massage Parlors

  1. It sounds like they’re writing a law for something that is already law. Do these illicit establishments even have licenses to revoke? If so, then we’d know where they are located, right? If not, then this is a criminal matter which should result in people going to prison.

    In my past life I worked in salons and day spas and we always were subjected to “to licensing and inspections”. The board of health would pop in unannounced. Are these proposed inspections something different?

    • Exactly my point. If the authorities find out about an unlicensed parlor in a basement of a home where there is prostitution, they are already empowered to go in and shut it down. Why would you then license and regulate the illegal business in order to shut it down if you can already shut it down?

  2. Some have reached out privately to answer the question I have about this bill. It seems that even after a facility is raided and people are arrested, the owners of the facilities are not typically subject to any penalties, and can continue to operate after an arrest is made, but that would change under the new licensing requirement. It also seems that after a woman is arrested for prostitution and is released, if they’re being trafficked, they simply get shuffled to another location while the owner just continues to operate, either in that location or pack up tent and move to a new one. So apparently this bill would make it easier for the Department of Public and Professional Regulations to inspect these facilities and shut them down, as well as level charges against the owners, rather than just busting the women.

    I wonder if this is the way to go about it though. Why not pass a new law amending the criminal statutes relating to prostitution and human trafficking to cover these owners and their property.

    • Laws it cover prostitution and human trafficking were amended in 2014. They have all the laws they need a place to take care of this problem. Law-enforcement does not take care of it. And now some misguided state reps have decided they will pass even more laws, because let’s face it, it’s going to look real good on their reelection brochures to say “hey look guys passed a law that is cracking down on prostitution. “I mean really, who could think that was a bad thing? Unless you really read what’s happening and know that this whole thing is total BS

  3. Okay, I did some digging and I’m back.

    Looks like Delaware has a Delaware Board of Massage and Bodywork. Everyone working in this field needs a license/certificate.

    “if any modality(ies) you practice is considered to be massage/bodywork, you must be licensed or certified by the Delaware Board of Massage and Bodywork before working in Delaware. This is true even if you have received a massage diploma or if you are already “certified” by a professional association such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. It is also true even if you are already licensed or certified to practice massage in another state or country. The modalities that are considered massage/bodywork are listed in the Board’s Rules and Regulations”

    And the board of Massage and bodywork has been around a while.

    Okay, I think I figured this out. The Board of Massage and Bodywork seems to have only controlled the licensing of individuals, not businesses. Not sure who handled the business end.

    So this bill simply puts oversight of massage businesses under the control of Delaware Board of Massage and Bodywork, alongside massage licensing/certification of individuals. That seems to be it.

    I have no idea why they’re talking about prostitution/sex trafficking. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the bill – since that stuff was already illegal and this bill doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem Short is citing.

    I could be missing something here… any thoughts?

    • Just read your comment, DD. I see where they’re coming from. Perhaps it would have been clearer if they said that this bill would close a loophole that allowed convicted massage business owners to keep operating their business.

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