Massage Deregulation In Arlington

Here’s one for the occupational licensing files:

Arlington may be getting out of the business of licensing massage practitioners in the county. The County Board is expected to vote in October on a request to advertise an ordinance change that would no longer require massage therapists to obtain a permit from the county’s health department. Instead, local massage therapists will only have to be certified by the state. Arlington County’s massage regulation started decades ago, in response to a proliferation of prostitution operations masquerading as massage parlors. County officials say those days are largely past, and its time to look at massage therapists in a new light.

The more I look at odd occupational licensing cases, the more I see the same logic error recurring. In this case, prostitution is already illegal. A locality that wants to shut down prostitution operations masquerading as massage parlors doesn’t need to also hit them with “operating an unlicensed massage parlor” charges. More generally, an awful lot of concerns people express about unlicensed businesses could (and should) be addressed through laws against fraud.