A Brief Chronical of My Experiences With HB16-1320 and the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA)
I’ve never had any hands-on experience with the legislative process. Nor had I any wish to. But when Andrea Wiener reached out asking for people to get engaged with HB16-1320, a bill in Colorado that would have removed our exemption as Feldenkrais Practitioners from the Massage Therapy Act from statute to Rule, I felt compelled to act.
The intent of the bill was to give the Director of DORA more flexibility to combat sex and human trafficking – guised as “massage therapy.”
I didn’t have a clue as to what I was getting myself into. With a mix of feelings, I rescheduled my clients, put on a nice shirt and tie (I hadn’t worn a tie since my wedding day) and made my way to the Capitol in Denver, Colorado to testify at the House Judiciary Committee. I was joined by my colleagues Michael Driscoll and Brandon DeKock. It was a long grueling day. We arrived at 1 pm. The hearing started at 1:30. There were three bills before ours and about 8:30 pm they finally got to it.
Most of my testimony focused on what the Feldenkrais Method is and why it should remain exempt. I have to admit; it was interesting, exhilarating and exhausting.
My next venture to the Capitol was for the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. Same thing, mixed feeling, clients, tie, drive to Denver. This time I was there with Pam Beets and practitioners of other methods showed up en force.
They got to our bill much more quickly. We were happy to hear a reading of amendments to the bill that included keeping our exemption in statute. Wow! I didn’t expect that. I had testimony prepared to convince them as to why they should keep our exemption in statute.
This process with the Senate Judiciary Committee was interesting in that a particular conservative senator, Kevin Lundberg, really took the bill’s sponsors and the director or DORA to talk about the details of the bill. He was championing us – including Rolfers, Reflexologist, etc. – as practitioners and small business owners.
So when I was called, I thought I’ll use my testimony to affirm they did the right thing. But after I got started it just seemed silly. So I took a moment to thank the senators for hearing us, taking the time to learn about us, and keeping our exemption in statute.
Eventually, the bill moved through the Senate and was passed. Now headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed. Yay!
But it doesn’t end there. Now meetings with DORA begin. The purpose of these meetings is to participate in the rule-writing process. There has already been one meeting that I attended, and there will be more meetings to come – at which I will be present to see this thing through to then end.
Throughout the process, I’ve sent emails to my Colorado colleagues to keep them informed and ask them to write letters and make calls to their representatives and senators as well as the bill’s sponsors. I believe this effort on all our parts really paid off. We spoke. They listened.
The bill isn’t perfect. But it’s a hell of a lot better than the one we started with.
So, when the need arises in your state, step up, get involved and take action. We are the difference that makes a difference.