As the Missouri Legislature enters its final week, a key priority of the pro-family
movement remains in limbo in the Missouri House of Representatives.
legislation to regulate sexually-oriented businesses is under siege from the purveyors
of pornography and their lobbyists crawling the halls of the Capitol.
The Missouri House is debating a Senate bill sponsored by Senators Matt Bartle and
Jack Goodman which would place restrictions on the operations of strip clubs and
so-called adult video stores. The Senate passed the bill early in the session
by a vote of 29-2, but the bill has received significant resistance in the Missouri
Legislation dealing with the sex industry has for a number of years been derailed
in the Missouri House.
This is despite the fact that it is controlled by a Republican
majority that claims to be conservative and concerned about traditional family values.
It has become clear over time that the pornography industry has undue influence
in the deliberations of the General Assembly. Missouri state statutes governing
the sex industry remain some of the weakest in the country.
The bill before the Missouri House would establish commonsense requirements governing
sexually oriented businesses. Such establishments could not be located within 1000
feet of any school, church, day care facility, library, park, personal residence,
or another sexually oriented business. Individuals with criminal records could not
have any influential interest in such businesses.
The sale of alcohol and the presence of minors would be prohibited, and such businesses
would have to close by midnight each day. The bill would ban entertainers from
performing in a state of total nudity, prohibit contact between dancers and patrons,
and establish physical requirements that would discourage sexual encounters in "adult
The key to passage of this bill is of Majority Leader Steve Tilley of Perryville.
Representative Tilley controls what issues are debated on the floor of the Missouri
House, and he determines when and for how long such issues will be discussed. Representative
Tilley has kept his promise to give the issue precious floor time in the final days
of the session. He has publicly stated that he is in support of the bill, yet he
has so far voted for amendments advanced by the pornography industry designed to
weaken the bill.
This legislation will not pass unless Representative Tilley moves at some point
in the process to shut down debate and bring the bill to a vote. The Missouri House
does this regularly on issues that the majority party is determined to pass. Should
the House fail to move "the previous question" on this issue and thus close out
interminable debate on the bill, it will be obvious that House leadership is not
serious about protecting Missouri families and communities from the ravages of
the pornography industry.
The Republican ranks in the Missouri Legislature include a number of individuals
with libertarian political philosophies. They believe in limited government that
does not interfere in the private lives of individuals. Unfortunately, their definition
of freedom extends to most any and all choices people make, even if they may prove
detrimental and destructive to other individuals and to communities at large.
The U.S. Supreme Court has defined the First Amendment in such an unbridled fashion
that it is virtually impossible to prohibit the sale of sexually explicit materials
or ban sexually oriented performances. But that is not what this bill is about.
Federal courts have uniformly agreed that state and local governments can establish
time, place, and manner regulations governing sexually oriented businesses to minimize
their negative secondary effects on communities.
Anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention to the news knows that these enterprises
are a breeding ground for criminal activity. Strip clubs and sex shops are quite
often the venue for violent crimes, sexual assaults, prostitution, drug trafficking,
and property crimes. They contribute to urban blight and the deterioration of property
values. They are the willing sponsors of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases
through random and sometimes anonymous sexual encounters.
We encourage you to contact Representative Tilley immediately and urge him to bring
Senate Bills 586 and 617 to a vote. We also ask you to pray for him and all the
members of the Missouri House that they will demonstrate the courage to take this
critical stand on behalf of Missouri families, Missouri children, and Missouri communities.
Please also be praying for Representative Ed Emery of Lamar who is leading the effort
to win passage of this bill in the House.
You can call Representative Tilley at (573) 751-1488. You can e-mail him at
The Legislature adjourns at 6 PM this. Time is running out for final action
on this essential pro-family proposal.