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BILLINGS - The Billings City Council held a public meeting over Zoom Wednesday evening, discussing a draft ordinance which looks to crack down on human trafficking in illicit businesses posing as massage and spa parlors.

If the new ordinance were to pass as law, it would mean existing massage businesses would have to apply for new licensing and adopt new rules and regulations.

During the meeting, several local massage business owners expressed their concerns over the new ordinance being intrusive and cumbersome for legal massage and spa parlors.

Under the new ordinance, every massage or spa facility would be required to keep a complete set of books and records on site, which could be checked by a inspector upon request.

The main concern from business owners was preserving the privacy and identity of those receiving a massage, pointing out that the names of clients are a part of their records.

City Council says they want to make it clear they are not requiring or intending to obtain protected health information of clients, and they are not looking to rummage through legit businesses.

Council members emphasized that the new ordinance is meant to address the human trafficking concerns in Billings by bringing down those places posing as massage and spa parlors that are conducting illegal activity.

The City Council is meeting again on Monday for the first reading of the ordinance. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Public participation and comments are encouraged.

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