The Bureau of Occupational Licenses wants the Idaho Legislature to spend $121,000 to cover background checks for licensed massage therapists.

The money would cover the costs created by House Bill 8, the legislation that authorizes the state to start background checks for licensed massage therapists. The Idaho House approved that bill on a 41-to-28 vote Feb. 8. It now awaits hearing in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

If Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee members approve the request, the bureau would spend $80,000 to cover background checks for more nearly 2,200 licensed massage therapists at a cost of about $37 per person. ISP would conduct the fingerprint-based background checks for the bureau.

The bureau would use $12,000 to hire temporary help to process the checks for license-holders. Once through the backlog, Bureau Chief Tana Corey said her agency will handle the checks without hiring extra help.

The appropriation would also fund $18,000 in computer programming costs to integrate the background information into the bureau’s existing systems.

Another $10,400 would fund background checks for the 280 people the bureau believes will apply for licenses in 2018.

The Twin Falls Times-News reported that while the massage licensure board asks applicants about their personal histories, the agency doesn’t verify that information. That makes some public officials uncomfortable.

As reported by the Times-News, Meridian City Police Chief Jeff Lavey testified for the background check bill. “When you get into massage, it’s a very intimate, personal, hands-on environment, and we believe the person that partakes in that should have full faith in that person they’re letting put their hands on them,” Lavey told the House Health and Welfare Committee at its Feb. 5 meeting.

Money to cover the request, should the budget committee approve it, would come from the state regulatory fund. For his part, Gov. Butch Otter supports the agency’s request.

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