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Warren reverses massage board management decision, awaits contract decision

Keith Warren and his staff are again providing administrative services to the Alabama Massage Therapy Board.

In a letter to Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, Wednesday, Warren apologized for a message Tuesday on the occupational licensure board’s website that said it could not renew licenses or return calls or emails until he and his company had an approved contract.

“Effective this morning, my company has resumed providing full administrative services for the Board of Massage Therapy,” Warren wrote to Roberts, chairman of the Legislative Contract Review Committee. “All messages referencing services suspended until an executive contract was in place have been removed. I apologize for this inconvenience and particularly to the citizens of the State of Alabama. They should be protected at all costs and not affected by the concerns this committee and the Sunset Committee may have with me and my firm.”

Warren’s reversal came about 24 hours after he said he’d stop services to the board, a move that Alabama Daily News reported Wednesday morning frustrated several lawmakers.

Like many licensure boards, massage therapy hires an outside executive director to handle many of its day-to-day functions. But Warren has been without a contract since the end of September after lawmakers earlier this month questioned cost increases in the proposed $150,000, one-year contract and another legislative panel’s suggestion that the board be disbanded at the end of fiscal 2024 because of management issues.

Warren and the board also tried to get an emergency contract through the state Finance Office, a practice that has been common among boards. But a recent law change may be putting an end to that practice. The contract was denied on Tuesday.

Now, Warren said he’ll wait for the original contract, which the review committee put a 45-day hold on, to go through its process. It will be up to Gov. Kay Ivey to sign it in mid-December.

“It is not fair to the public nor the licensees to be without services,” Warren told Alabama Daily News on Wednesday afternoon.

Warren said he has no guarantees or promises from anyone about the pending contract.

There are dozens of separate licensure boards in the state overseeing and collecting fees and fines from thousands of Alabama professionals.

There will be legislation in the 2024 session to put some of them under one state agency.

Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, said he’s been circulating a draft of the bill among his colleagues.

“It will consolidate the administrative functions of about 30 occupational boards to increase efficiency, reduce costs to licensees and provide a greater level of professionalism to licensees and consumers alike,” Elliott told Alabama Daily News.

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