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Davenport drafting ordinance to better regulate massage parlors

davenport, city ordinance, massage parlor, human trafficking, prostitution, crime, therapeutic massage,

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The city of Davenport is drafting an ordinance that will allow it to regulate or even shut down massage parlors amid an uptick in illicit businesses in recent years. The city said the major concern is that bad actors can use massage parlors as a front for prostitution or even human trafficking.

Massage therapists say the ordinance will close a major loophole that allowed illegitimate businesses to operate under the radar.

"As a physical therapist or doctor of physical therapy, you have to present your licensure and have it present," said Dr. Dan Howes at the Institute of Therapeutic Massage & Wellness in Davenport. "So why would it be any different for massage therapy?"

Davenport is taking a page from other cities in the state like Des Moines, Iowa City and more recently, Clinton. A 2017 Iowa law gives municipalities the ability to enforce state-issued therapeutic massage licenses, and shut down businesses operating without one.

"We go to school, we get properly trained, we have to do continuing education every year to keep up our licenses and we take our profession very seriously," said Amanda Wheeler, who owns and manages Exotic Escape Spa & Salon in Davenport.

"We are here to help people, heal people," she said.  "And we want people to know that they’re in a safe place when they do come in for a massage."