Every year it seems our local Howard County Delegation sponsors legislation to regulate massage establishments. This year it is Howard County Bill 13-16 http://howardcountymd.gov/departments.aspx?id=6442478112
Why is this even necessary? Why did the former Police Chief testify before the House Committee “that Howard County does not have all the tools” to regulate massage? Howard County already has an ordinance at Title 14 Subtitle 8. The County Code is here. How does giving Howard County the authority to “adopt ordinances or regulations relating to massage establishments and the practices of massage therapists, massage practitioners, and any other individuals who provide massage for compensation” enhance the regulation in Howard County? If there is something missing in the ordinance, then the Council should amend the law, not pass redundant and dubious state legislation.
Moreover, why does nobody in the General Assembly seem to realize that the law as drafted is unconstitutional? It is a law that only applies to Howard County–a Charter County. The Maryland Constitution prohibits legislation that only applies to one Charter County. If regulation of massage or more specifically prostitution and trafficking needs to be regulated, then why not pass a bill that applies statewide. Regulating only in Howard County is hardly prudent; it will just push the problem in the more populated neighboring counties.
Moreover, why does nobody realize that the law is unconstitutional because the amendment is to a statute that deals with regulation of massage establishments in Charles and Washington Counties–counties which have more limited commission forms of government? They can only regulate matters locally if the General Assembly authorizes it; as a Charter County, Howard County already has the power to regulate under the broad powers of the Express Powers Act.