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Anti-porn bill gets first-round Senate OK

Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:13 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — With little debate, the Senate gave first-round approval Monday to legislation aiming to make it tough for the adult entertainment industry to operate in Missouri.

The bill, SB 32, would impose a charge of $5 per customer for sexually oriented businesses, from strip clubs to adult bookstores, and a 20 percent tax on their revenues. The provisions are similar to what casinos in the state already must pay.

“Travelers in our state are being sent a signal that Missouri is a porn-friendly state,” sponsoring Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, said during earlier debate on the bill. “Missouri law has fallen sadly behind the laws and ordinances in other jurisdictions.”

The legislation needs another vote to move to the House.

Bartle said he’s not concerned about the industry’s claims that the legislation violates constitutional rights to free speech and expression. He said it is modeled after what worked and withstood court challenges in other states.

Sen. Victor Callahan, D-Independence, said he agreed with the principle but hoped opponents wouldn’t eventually win in court.

“My only concern is legally,” Callahan said, “the only danger is you end up at the end of it affirming these businesses.

The legislation would restrict such businesses to operating only between 10 a.m. and midnight, and businesses could not be open on Sundays or holidays.

Also, customers and strippers could not touch, and customers could not tip strippers. Total nudity would be banned, and no one under 21 could work in such businesses.

Bartle said the restrictions and taxes are necessary to combat problems from such businesses, including prostitution, crime, juvenile delinquency and dropping property values.


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