Kansas Anti-SOB Bill Advances in House

TOPEKA— “SOBs hurt your community,” Rep. Joe Patton, a Topeka Republican, told the Kansas City Star Tuesday. “Prostitution. … Homicide. Sexual trafficking. Rape. We are a better people than that. This is Kansas, for Pete’s sake. Let’s start acting like it.”

The legislator was talking sexually-oriented businesses—not his Democrat colleagues—and a bill to regulate such businesses that was subsequently passed by the House in a 106-16 vote. 

Applicable to strip clubs, adult video stores and other SOBs, the bill would prohibit those businesses from being within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, libraries, day-care centers or churches, prohibit fully nude dancing or waitressing and force them to close from midnight to 6 am.

According to the Star, several cities and townships in the state have such zoning laws, but this legislation would apply to all SOBs in the state.

The few legislators who voted against the bill argued that local municipalities should decide for themselves whether they want to pass such a restrictive law, and also made the point that it jeopardized the employment of at least some of the 2,500 to 4,000 people statewide who work in such businesses.

Patten said he had originally been leaning against supporting the bill on the grounds that the state should not be in the business of regulating such businesses, but then he got a hold of “numerous studies about their effects on communities,” according to the AP.

"All the studies showed this hurts communities, increases crime, hurts property values," Patton said. "If you want to do this kind of work, do it in a way that doesn't destroy our communities—that's the whole point."

The legislator did not name the studies to which he was referring, however, despite receiving at least one email asking for clarification.

It should be noted that the only peer-reviewed study on the subject of the secondary-effects related to sexually-oriented businesses found no correlation between the higher crime rates and SOBs, and in fact came to the conclusion that “the nearby areas surrounding the adult nightclub sites have smaller numbers of reported crime incidents than do corresponding areas surrounding the three control sites studied.” The study, which was published in 2001, had looked at strip clubs in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. 

Maybe people act differently in Kansas than they do in North Carolina, but it’s doubtful. The legislation will now be taken up by the state Senate.