Some massage therapists rage over rules proposed by absent South Dakota board of directors


PIERRE, SD (KELO) – The Five People of South Dakota Massage therapy advice have heard severe criticism of their practices and offers rule changes, if they had participated in a public hearing by teleconference Thursday evening.

In their absence, Mitch Richter, who is the executive secretary of the board, was the only person to vote in favor, while six state-licensed massage therapists and a representative of a national association strongly objected. to various parts of the changes.

Council attorney Mitch Williams of the state Department of Health told them he would prepare minutes for council members to read, but would not provide a text transcript.

Neither Richter nor Williams said when the board would decide on the changes. A board teleconference meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 17 at 9 a.m. PT, and an update on the rules hearing is on the agenda.

The legislature created the council and established the licensing conditions for massage therapists in 2005. The main sponsor of the bill at the time was Rep. Joni Cutler, a Republican from Sioux Falls. She is now state circuit judge Joni Clark.

Emotions lasted much of Thursday’s hour-long hearing. Those who spoke out against the rules were Rebecca Herrmann, Pam Boyden, Christine Hoober, Rhanda Heller, Bridget Myers, Heather Herrick and Olawa Rae-Bruhjell.

Myers and Heller’s comments have at times become personal against Richter and Pierre’s board chair Christine Ellwein. Myers accused the council of not communicating. Heller, who had buried her husband less than a week ago, described Ellwein’s leadership as “inept” and called on every council member by name to “stand up.”

“That’s enough,” attorney Williams told Heller.

“Come on. I’m so done,” Heller replied.

Myers said the 5:00 p.m. hearing start was “disrespectful” because the 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. period was when massage therapists were typically the busiest. She notes that the previous council meeting started at 7:30 p.m.

Most have spoken out against increasing fees during a pandemic. Questions were also raised about how a proposed rule would be applied requiring licensees to update the board office when their personal information changes.

Several massage schools have asked why the board now needs to approve all of the continuing education courses they offer.

Heller came back for a second shot. She accused Ellwein of pushing the board into “the red” – a deficit – and asked Williams to put her next comment in the minutes: “What the hell is this?” Heller said, “is crazy.”

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