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N4T Investigators: State resumes licensing for massage therapists after major delay

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massage table

TUCSON (KVOA) - The Arizona Board of Massage Therapy is once again processing new license applications after a News 4 Tucson Investigation looking into a major delay tied to a new law that went into effect in 2023. 

The new law puts stricter background checks on licensed massage therapists including a requirement for level 1 fingerprint clearance cards, which would alert the Board of professionals who get arrested. Previously, massage therapists were required to self report arrests to the Board within 10 days but it was frequently ignored.

The fingerprint cards is a process set up through the FBI, which according to the Board was the source of the delay.

The FBI has not responded to the N4T Investigators to explain why things were held up.

The delays cost many aspiring massage therapists like Sarah Barracks work as they were left unable to get licensed.

"Set up a part time job outside of my house but they had to pass over me," Barracks said.

David Elson, the senior investigator for the Massage Board said they are just as happy to get things back on track.

"We've been in a holding pattern and taking flak for this when we were, if we were to issue licenses before they got the fingerprint clearance cards we'd be breaking the law so we are as excited to license people as they are to get licensed," he said.

Michelle Cordero with ASIS Massage Education, one of the largest massage schools in the state, said it was a tough wait for her students but they are happy to see things moving again.

"They're excited, they're like this is long over due but they're ready to get to work," Cordero said.

It could still take several weeks before they get a license, DPS has to process their fingerprint cards but the Massage Board also has to do their background check. 

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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