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Missouri Family E-News January 25, 2010
 
Missouri House Denounces Federal Health Care Bills
 
Members of the Missouri House of Representatives have voiced their opposition to proposed federal health care legislation.  The Missouri House adopted a concurrent resolution urging members of Missouri's Congressional delegation in Washington to vote against current health care proposals.
 
Representative John Diehl of Town and Country was the chief sponsor of the resolution.  Diehl and his colleagues charged that health care bills adopted by the U.S. House and Senate would raise taxes and drive up health care costs.  Missouri legislators expressed concern that unfunded mandates in the health care bills would put state funding for education, mental health services, public safety, and other essential state services at risk.
 
The resolution takes aim at the anti-life provisions of the Obama Administration's health care initiatives.  Legislators voiced concern about subsidies for abortion contained in the U.S. Senate's health care bill.  The resolution also states that the federal bills establish "a substantial change to longstanding practices governing end of life decisions."
 
The resolution also calls on Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster to review the constitutionality of the federal bills in light of special deals made with specific states, such as the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback."  Attorney Generals from several states have threatened to go to court to challenge the unequal allocation of benefits which would be granted to various states.
 
Twenty-two Democrats joined all eighty-seven Republican members of the Missouri House in approving the resolution.  Many of those Democrats are members of the Democrats for Life caucus.  
 
 
Federal Court Upholds Ten Commandments Display
 
A federal appeals courts has upheld the display of the Ten Commandments at a courthouse in Grayson County, Kentucky.  The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the display did not constitutive an endorsement of religion because it had a secular purpose.
 
The courthouse display is entitled "Foundations of American Law and Government."  In addition to the Ten Commandments, it includes the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Star Spangled Banner, the National Motto, and a picture of Lady Justice.
 
County government officials say the purpose of the display is to showcase a sampling of documents that played a significant role in the the development of the legal and governmental system of the United States.
 
A federal district court judge had previously ruled the display unconstitutional as a result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.  Matt Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, represented Grayson County in the lawsuit.
 
"The Ten Commandments are as much at home in a display about the foundation of law as stars and stripes are to the American flag," Staver says.  "The Ten Commandments are part of the fabric of our country and helped shape the law.  It defies common sense to remove a recognized symbol of law from a court of law."
 
Staver points out that every federal appeals courts which has reviewed a Ten Commandments display since 2005 has upheld them.  Courts have generally ruled that displays on government property including only the Ten Commandments are unconstitutional, but that displays where the Commandments are incorporated with other legal and historical documents are permissible.
 
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Missouri Legislators Seek Curbs on Sex Shops
 
Missouri legislators are pressing for passage of legislation which would curb the proliferation of sexually oriented businesses in the state.   Bills have been filed in both the Missouri House and Senate which would regulate the operations of so-called "adult" bookstores, video stores, arcades, and cabarets.
 
The key provision in the proposed legislation is a ban on the establishment of a sexually oriented business within 1000 feet of any school, church, day care facility, public park or library, personal residence, or any other sexually oriented business. 
 
"If you have a church, you don't want a smut shop going in next door," said Senator Matt Bartle of Lee's Summit in testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.  Bartle and Senator Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon are the sponsors of identical bills being considered by the Senate.  Representative Ed Emery of Lamar has introduced a similar bill in the Missouri House.
 
The legislation cites the adverse secondary effects of sexually-oriented businesses, including "personal and property crimes, prostitution, potential spread of disease, lewdness, public indecency, obscenity, illegal drug use and trafficking, negative impacts on surrounding properties, urban blight, litter, and sexual assault and exploitation."
 
The sponsors argue that such legislation is needed to minimize the impact of the secondary effects of such businesses and to prevent an unnecessary concentration of such businesses in one area.
 
Like many states, Missouri has become populated with stores selling sexually explicit material and nightclubs with nude or semi-nude dancers, with billboards lining the interstates advertising these sleazy businesses.  With the recent trend of pornography consumption occurring through online internet sources, many of these businesses have focused on accommodating actual sexual encounters, which raises serious public health and safety concerns.
 
Unfortunately, due to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, it is virtually impossible to ban the operation of sexually oriented businesses.  Yet the courts have increasingly upheld legislation in recent years which enforces so-called "time, place, and manner" restrictions on such businesses, or which establish health and safety regulations.
 
The bills being discussed by the General Assembly ban total nudity in such establishments, and require that semi-nude dancers remain at a distance from patrons of such establishments.  Businesses with video arcades must ensure that such rooms are open for continuing observation by an attendant to dissuade sexual activity from occurring onsite. 
 
No alcoholic beverages can be served on the premises of a sexually oriented business, noon under 18 can enter, and all such businesses must shut down between midnight and 6 AM, when incidents of crime most often occur.  In another significant feature, the bills ban any person from having an "influential interest" in a sexually oriented business who has a criminal record.
 
The bill would empower local prosecutors to go to court to seek fines against noncompliant businesses.  They also would be authorized to seek judicial action against such businesses as public nuisances if there are repeated violations of the new regulations.
 
Repeated attempts to pass legislation in the Missouri General Assembly cracking down on sexually oriented businesses have failed over the years.  A recent report in the Kansas City Star suggests that previous attempts to regulate strip clubs and "adult" video stores may have been influenced by well-timed political contributions from the "adult entertainment" industry. 
 
As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Senator Bartle is determined to make this the year that action is finally taken. We will keep you posted on the progress of these bills.
 
We commend Senator Bartle, Senator Goodman, and Representative Emery for taking a stand for decency in our state, and for their concern for families, children, and communities throughout Missouri.  May God bless their valiant efforts. 
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