RS City Council Meeting heats up during discussion of Public hearing regarding massage establishment ordinance

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Photo of Misty Hay at RS council meeting (Wyo4News photo)

Carly Eversole, [email protected]

Rock Springs, Wyoming – During the regular session of Rock Springs City Council at City Hall tonight, the initial reading of 2 proposed ordinances aimed at tackling a human trafficking issue within the community. Human trafficking became a topic of discussion following a presentation by Uprising, an anti-trafficking organization out of Sheridan Wy, and Seargent Hall of Sweetwater County Sheriff’s office. The presentation took place during the September 20 council meeting with the goal of urging city officials to create an ordinance allowing law enforcement to further investigate massage establishments where illegal sex acts are being committed under the guise of legal massage.

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Ordinance No-2022 13 further defines Public Morals and decency, including maintaining a house of ill fame, frequenting or loitering of a house of ill fame, enticing to a house of ill fame, soliciting, and finally, penalties.

Ordinance No-2022 14 proposes additional licensing required to operate a massage establishment within the city limits, including massage establishment and massage therapist licenses, license term, license display, message establishment requirements, order to comply, applications for message establishment, and applications for a massage therapist, issuing of licenses, denial of licenses, message therapy exemptions, renewal procedures, required clothing and more.

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When the floor was opened for discussion, a number of massage professionals spoke in their opposition to Ordinance 14 regarding the verbiage and the restrictions it places on their businesses and way of life.

Among those voicing their concerns was Tammy Curtis Morlock, who has been doing bodywork and massage for over 22 years.  “I don’t think that verbiage is probably fair.  The Utah School of Massage therapy has been recommended for years and years, they were not accredited….I display my city business license in my business for anyone to come look at. It’s insulting to us that do medical massage to be put in the same bracket as the parlor business.” 

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Another voice of opposition was that of Misty Hay, stating, “I think we either need to have a committee to reword ordinance 14 or only implement 13 and not 14.”

Councilman Rob Zotti voiced his concerns about Ordinance 14 and its efficacy, stating, “The enforcement of this is going to drive sex trafficking underground.  I don’t see how this changes anything.  We passed a similar ordinance for dancers, and I don’t know what that has changed…All we are doing is regulate to regulate, and that drives me nuts.”

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Seargent Hall spoke to the council and public in defense of the ordinance, stating it gives her department “teeth to be able to investigate these businesses where we know trafficking is taking place.”

Mayor Kaumo also spoke in favor of ordinance 14, stating, “any self-respecting professional wouldn’t mind filling out the proper applications and receiving the correct licensing to be able to remain in business and prevent human trafficking.”

Councilman West proposed a workshop among massage professionals, law enforcement, and council members themselves to hopefully draft a better solution for everyone involved in the issue.

City Attorney Richard Beckwith urged the public to contact his office by phone or email if they have suggestions on language and regulations they would like to see in the ordinance.

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