The state of Missouri now has one of the toughest laws in the nation regulating the operation of sexually oriented
businesses. Governor Jay Nixon signed legislation on Friday applying new requirements to so-called "adult" cabarets, video stores, and arcades.
The bill, House Committee Substitute for Senate Bills 586 and 617, was adopted by the Missouri Legislature during the recent regular session with
overwhelming bipartisan majorities. The House adopted the measure by a vote of 118-28, and the Senate gave final approval by a vote of 27-4.
The legislation signed by the Governor was a combination of identical bills introduced by Senator Matt Bartle of Lee's Summit and Senator Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon. Bartle has been a major advocate of anti-pornography legislation during his years in the General Assembly and served as the major impetus behind this year's bill. Representative Ed Emery of Lamar sponsored the House version of the measure.
The legislation is designed to protect communities from the adverse effects of strip clubs and sex shops. While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that most pornographic materials and performances are constitutionally protected free speech or expression, federal courts have also ruled that state and local governments can impose operating restrictions that minimize negative secondary effects.
Numerous studies conducted by the community development and planning departments of municipal governments across the country have concluded that nude dancing establishments and "adult" video stores and bookstores generate a wide variety of negative impacts. These include crimes against persons and property, illicit drug use and drug
trafficking, prostitution, sexual assault and exploitation, the potential spread of disease, and urban blight.
A key provison of the new law is a distance requirement stipulating that sexually oriented businesses cannot be located within 1000 feet of any church, school, day care facility, public library, public park, personal residence, or any other sexually oriented business. Such businesses must close by midnight, cannot sell alcohol, cannot allow minors on the premises, and cannot be owned or operated by individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes or tax offenses.
The new statute prohibits total nudity in any strip club and bans any contact between dancers and patrons. Physical requirements are established for video arcades to discourage their use for sexual activity and encounters,
which are often random and anonymous. The new law also expressly authorizes local governments to establish their own regulations which may be stricter than the state statute.
Operators of so-called "adult entertainment" businesses in Missouri have promised to file suit against the new state law. They claim that as many as 60% of such businesses may close because of the law. They say that the new law may put as many as 3000 people out of work and cost the state as much as $2 million in tax revenues. They are contesting the fiscal note on the bill, which details the impact of the legislation on state and local revenues. The fiscal note prepared by the state estimated a loss to the state of no more than $100,000.
The revenue loss claims being made by the lawyers and spokesmen for the sex industry are manufactured nonsense. "Exotic dancing" is not prohibited under this bill nor are video stores prohibited from selling any of
their merchandise. It is highly unlikely that most of these businesses would shut down, though their business model may have to change. If any such businesses do shut down, any money that would have been spent in such businesses will be spent on something else, and the state will collect taxes on that expenditure.
We are highly confident that this new law will survive any legal challenge in state or federal courts. The legislation was primarily the handiwork of Scott Bergthold, one of the leading attorneys in the nation versed in the constitutional issues dealing with regulation of pornography.
We are most grateful to Governor Nixon for recognizing the importance of this legislation to Missouri families and communities. We encourage you to contact him and thank him for his concern for the environment--that is, the
moral environment our kids and grandkids are growing up in. As someone has stated, the moral muck of unchecked pornography in our culture is much more serious and devastating to individual lives and the social environment than the physical muck of the Gulf Oil spill.
You can reach Governor Nixon by using this link:
While this new law, much life efforts to cap the Gulf Oil spill, will not plug entirely the flow of pornography into Missouri towns and neighborhoods (particularly since so much of it is now online), it will stem the proliferation of such businesses in our state. Hopefully, it will spare some individuals from the temptation of such businesses
being so close to home, work, or travel; spare some individuals from addiction to pornography; and spare some women from the victimization and exploitation of the sex industry.
The Missouri Family Policy Council was pleased to work with a coalition of pro-family and pro-decency groups to win passage of this bill. We particularly want to commend John Putnam and the people of Jasper County for their diligence and the excellent homework they have done on this issue.
For many years, Missouri has had some of the weakest laws in the nation regulating strip clubs and sex stores. We now have some of the most stringent. We thank God for this marvelous breakthrough to help safeguard Missouri families and children.