Legislation Update for Our Work to #EndSexTraffickinginPGH

Before the press conference, Councilwoman Rudiak signed on as a co-sponsor to Councilman Doug Shields for Massage Parlor Model Local Ordinance to regulate massage parlors in Pittsburgh with the goal of ending sex trafficking in our city.

Councilman Doug Shields introduces the bill tomorrow. I’ll be speaking during public comments, as will a few others. I just want to be there at the first legislative step towards ending sex trafficking in Pittsburgh.

Some folks have been bringing up that there is a Pennsylvania state law (pdf) which regulates massage parlors, and suggesting that it means Pittsburgh cannot/should not seek to regulate masseuses or massage establishments. This is an important question, to which I have three brief thoughts:

  1. The state statute licenses massage therapists, but provides no permitting requirements for massage establishments. One of the greatest strengths of the Massage Parlor Model Local Ordinance is its Operational Requirements section, which lays out several physical requirements for massage parlors. None of these requirements should be a problem for legitimate massage establishments. Some requirements include no boarded-over windows, no locks on internal doors, clearly marked exits and no service before 6am or after 10pm.
  2. Pittsburgh requires licenses from everyone from welders to power engineers to sign contractors. Even if sections of the massage parlor ordinance are preempted by the state law, the city retains legal authority to issue licenses and permits.
  3. The state law was not written with the intent of preventing human trafficking or prostitution. Therefore it does not include the operational requirements, or the vital Trafficking Victim Immunity clause.

Inspirational Quote:

“Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.”–Saul Alinsky

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