Massage parlors and smoking top County Council's agenda

January 03, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

The County Council will have sin on the agenda tonight, introducing legislation to regulate massage parlors and voting on strengthening the county's new smoking law.

Members will vote on salary increases for themselves and County Executive Charles I. Ecker, and a $1 million bond issue to clean up the Carrs Mill Landfill in Woodbine.

The massage parlor bill, to be introduced on behalf of Mr. Ecker, is intended to keep county parlors from becoming fronts for prostitution.

Although state law already prohibits sexual-contact-for-hire, Mr. Ecker said he believes county regulation could stop the problem before criminal laws have been broken.

jTC "It's a preventive thing. We want to stop them from coming in."

Mr. Ecker said that while most of the county's massage establishments are legitimate, "we have seen parlors open up that are questionable, and we think that more are going to open up, and we want to stop them."

The law would require both masseurs and parlors to be licensed and undergo background checks. Establishments would pay a $500 application fee and $100 a year for the license itself.

Employees would pay $100 for the application and $25 for the annual license and a medical check for diseases transmitted by air or physical contact.

Violators of the law would face both criminal and civil fines.

Exempt from the law would be therapists certified by the National Certification Board for Bodywork and Massage Therapies, therapists with advanced training from approved schools, cosmetologists and bartenders licensed to massage hands, feet, faces, scalps, necks and shoulders. Health professionals and athletic trainers would also be exempt.

Periodic county police investigations have ended in the arrest of employees of some massage establishments, including one in May at an Ellicott City tanning spa and in January 1992 at a Columbia spa.

Under the licensing proposal, even the name of masseurs would be changed to the more clinical, "massage technicians."

Technicians would be required to wear opaque clothing covering their torso and "erogenous areas."

They would also be prohibited from massaging or offering to massage erogenous areas.

The meeting will begin at 8 p.m. in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building.

Later during the legislative session, the council will vote on an amendment to one of the most stringent anti-smoking laws on the East Coast. The law bans smoking in most public places, including taverns and restaurants, after June 30, 1996.

At Mr. Ecker's request, Councilman Darrel Drown, R-2nd, has proposed extending the law to enclosed rooms in bars or restaurants with separate ventilation systems, which the current law exempts.

A pay increase for council members and the executive is also up for a vote.

One of two resolutions proposed by the Compensation Review Commission would increase the executive's salary from the current $80,000 to $88,500 in annual increments of $2,125 during the four-year term starting in December 1994.

The other resolution would increase the council chairman's pay from the current $28,500 to $31,300 over the same period. Other members' pay would increase from $27,500 to $30,300.

The council will also vote on switching $1 million in the county's capital budget from a project to build a yard-waste composting facility to a more pressing solid waste problem.

The money, to be raised by selling county bonds, would pay for the cleanup of toxins in at least 460 drums dumped at the Carrs Mill Landfill.

Mr. Ecker, worried that some council members are leaning toward paying for the cleanup out of a contingency fund, will speak to council members about the cleanup shortly before their legislative meeting.

At that 7 p.m. meeting, council members will also hear a report by the Spending Affordability Committee urging that the county curb its debt or increase taxes.

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