SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Officials in a western Iowa city are moving forward with an ordinance that would require massage therapy businesses to obtain a local license and undergo annual reviews.
The Sioux City Council on Monday unanimously approved the first reading of the ordinance designed to fight prostitution, human trafficking and drug dealing, the Sioux City Journal reported . The proposal follows the Legislature’s removal of a state code that forbid cities from regulating massage businesses.
Under the ordinance, businesses would be required to submit identification and information on their employees for background checks. Sioux City could withhold licenses if any agent of the business, owner or employee, had a criminal conviction for a sex crime or for keeping a house of prostitution. Licenses would also be prohibited if any agent were registered as a sex offender or had been refused a license by other communities.
The city would prosecute violations as a misdemeanor.
Several local massage therapists said the proposed regulations wouldn’t affect business. But others pointed to provisions in the ordinance, like a ban on 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. operating hours, as measures that could interfere with services.
“I see 14 people a day, and if somebody calls in and they hurt, I’ll see them whenever they need,” said Lonnie Jensen, co-owner of Mind & Body Connection.
Mayor Bob Scott said the application requirement for businesses to offer proof of insurance in the amount of $2 million per occurrence and $6 million per policy year is “unreasonably high.”
City officials have agreed to work with local massage therapists to finalize the drafted regulation and gather feedback.
The council will receive edits to the ordinance before the second reading.
Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com