SIOUX CITY | Some local massage therapists have signed a petition opposing a set of proposed city regulations on their businesses. 

The Change.org petition, titled "Respectfully object to implementing massage therapy business licenses in Sioux City," was started Monday by Danielle Calhoon-Fischer, owner of Studio 83 Holistic Wellness, who said she believed putting new regulations on massage therapy businesses is singling them out and discriminating against the profession.  

"It’s just basically targeting our group of massage therapists that are independent contractors ... and grouping them in with the businesses that are in question that participate in what is an organized crime," she said, adding the city shouldn't single out therapists but ignore hotels, taxis and truck stops. 

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the petition had 431 online signatures. It is addressed to City Hall and city manager Bob Padmore. 

Several comments, some written by practicing therapists, say the proposed ordinance is an unnecessary and potentially prohibitive over-regulation since the state already issues licenses for therapists. 

The council on Monday passed the first reading of a new ordinance that would require local massage therapy businesses to obtain city licenses and undergo annual reviews.

The ordinance met concern from several local therapists, but the council passed a first reading with the declared intention of working with local businesses to address some of their concerns with the guidelines. 

Among suggested changes were removing a portion of the ordinance that prohibits businesses from seeing customers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and a reduction in the amount of insurance needed by the businesses. 

Council members said the main reason is not to enact cumbersome regulations but to separate legitimate businesses from those operating illegally or as a front for illicit activity. 

Calhoon-Fischer said she would be open to discussion if the city decides to take a more holistic look at stopping human trafficking. 

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City hall reporter

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