Here’s a bit from that big Chron story last weekend about Houston’s ongoing battle against sexually oriented businesses that masquerade as massage parlors and how the budget debacle will make that battle a little harder for the city.
Regulating massage parlors is a dubious task. They often change names and ownership, if they register with authorities at all.
The job of licensing and inspecting them falls to Texas Department of State Health Services, but the state relies heavily on local police to enforce the regulations. There is just one full-time state investigator assigned to routine inspections of licensed businesses. Five investigators, shared with other state programs, review and investigate complaints against licensees.
But department spokeswoman Christine Mann said it’s likely the state will cut the massage licensing program to meet budget requirements.
“One of those options is to eliminate our massage therapy licensing program, worth $1.5 million over the 2012-2013 biennium,” Mann wrote in an e-mail.
This is the sort of thing that happens when state agencies are ordered to cut their budgets by ten percent because of a looming multi-billion dollar shortfall. Enforcing regulations, even a little bit, costs money. Not enforcing them “saves” money, at least in the sense of not being a line item in the state budget. What it really means is that someone else winds up paying for it, one way or another. Just another thing to look forward to when the 2011 Legislature convenes.