Kansas House Passes Repressive Adult Entertainment Bill

TOPEKA, Kan.—The Kansas House today passed a bill that would impose the same sorts of draconian restrictions on adult businesses that its neighbor to the east, Missouri, enacted in 2010. The vote was 91-28. The alleged purpose of the new law, which now moves to the Senate, is to curb problems caused by secondary effects related to adult businesses, but no one is fooled by that lame excuse. The point of the bill is to run adult business out of the state, and the restrictions being proposed are so severe that it might very well succeed.

According to cjonline.com, “Under the measure, new adult cabarets, bookstores, video stores, theaters, modeling studios and sexual device shops couldn't be located within 1,000 feet of a church, library, park, school or day care center. Existing clubs would no longer be able to provide full nudity in entertainment clubs. Entertainers wouldn’t be allowed to touch customers because all dancers would remain 6 feet from clients and perform on an elevated stage. The lap dance would be a thing of the past.”

Staying open past midnight would also be a relic of the past, since, like other similar laws, business would be required to close from midnight to 6 a.m., a limitation that may not adversely impact adult book stores or video shops as much as it would gentlemen’s clubs and other venues featuring live acts. The only good news for adult businesses took place Tuesday, when the House declined to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages in adult establishments.

Still, the specter of so many states bowing to social and religious conservatives determined to impose their own morality on others by forcing these businesses out of the state should resonate deeply with conservatives who actually value a more libertarian view of the world. If their beliefs are not in lock step with the moralists’ orthodoxy, their turn will surely come.

One legislator who clearly understands what is at stake is Rep. Mike Burgess, R-Topeka, who commented from the floor of the House, "My opposition to this bill is best summed up by the Ronald Reagan quote, where he said, 'Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.’”

According to cjonline.com, Burgess' statement in opposition to the bill was joined by Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, and Rep. William Prescott, R-Osage City.

For other legislators, the freedom issue is important, but the economic impact that will come from imposing such restrictions on legal businesses is primary. Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, according to cjonline.com, said the House should be promoting economic development rather than legislating morality.

"This is not what we were sent here to do," he said, "especially in the middle of an economic crisis."