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And in the last two years, state efforts to crack down on the businesses have yielded some positive results. In Clark County, the state health department has taken action and issued fines against 16 people. And legislation passed last year gives health officials and law enforcement the authority to hold business owners accountable if they allow unlicensed massage practitioners.
The legislation was an effort to target owners who may be trafficking women to work in the businesses or who are using the business as a front for prostitution. The neighborhood complaints about the massage business led to investigations by the Vancouver Police Department and the state health department. Ultimately, the business closed in January In March , then-Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation that authorized the state health department to conduct unannounced inspections of facilities offering massage.
The law went into effect July 1, State health officials were then able to open an unlicensed practitioner investigation and, upon its completion in one to three months, take formal action, Magby said. But, short of actually seeing a person provide massage services, proving the illegal practice can be hard to do, Magby said.
Of those, 51 have paid their fines, which is more than health officials expected. In Clark County, the state health department issued 16 cease-and-desist orders in and Only three have paid their fines, according to state health department data. This is about getting those illegal people who could potentially hurt patients out of business.
Last year, the state Legislature passed a bill that broadened the reach of state investigators. House Bill created penalties for business owners who allow the unlicensed practice of massage or reflexology, which is a method to stimulate reflexive points in the hands, feet and outer ears.