Nebraska Sen. Proposes Adult Business Law

LINCOLN, Neb. - Sen. Mark Christensen has introduced Legislative Bill 443 in the Nebraska Legislature which, under the guise of reducing "secondary effects," would force adult businesses of all types to close from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily, unless they hold liquor licenses, in which case they could not "conduct, offer, or allow sexually oriented entertainment activity" between those hours.

"Sexually oriented entertainment activity" is defined as "the sale, rental, or exhibition, for any form of consideration, of books, films, video cassettes, magazines, visual images, or live performances which are characterized by an emphasis on the exposure or display of any specified anatomical areas or specified sexual activity." Such "specified anatomical areas" include the genital areas, the buttocks and any part of the breast below the top of the areola," while "specified sexual activity" means "intercourse, oral copulation, masturbation, sodomy, or excretory functions."

Among the types of businesses affected would be adult book and video stores, adult cabarets and swing clubs, but the definitions are so broad as to include many theaters playing R-rated Hollywood-produced films and mainstream bookstores offering books of nude photographs.

In regulations targeting strip clubs, the new law would force dancers to stay at least six feet away from patrons on stages at least two feet off the floor, and would forbid dancers from touching each other while customers are watching, or touching the customers themselves. That would mean an effective ban on lap-dancing and likely on private performance rooms at clubs as well.

Finally, the bill would prohibit new adult businesses from locating with one-quarter mile of the usual "sensitive uses," including residences, houses of worship, schools, "public recreational facilities" and even, according to a story on, a "children's imagination station."

"And right here in Lincoln, Nebraska, we have such an [adult] establishment that's only a block away from a grade school," exclaimed Al Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Council, "and all the grade-schoolers walk by."

Riskowski did not indicate what harms would befall the school children from walking past an adult establishment. However, Christensen's stated rationale for the bill is to prevent the deleterious secondary effects of adult businesses and sexually oriented businesses," though he also claims that the act has "neither the purpose nor effect of imposing a limitation or restriction on the content or reasonable access to communicative materials, including sexually oriented materials." Several studies exist which cast doubt on the "secondary effects" concept, and note that many businesses such as fast-food restaurants and convenience stores have the same sorts of effects on crime and property values in neighborhoods as do adult businesses.

Christensen has also introduced Legislative Bill 444, which would create a licensing system for escort agencies operating within the state, and would prevent anyone who was delinquent on his/her taxes or had any criminal record from obtaining such a license.

The adult business bill, at least, seems ripe for a court challenge, but Michigan-based First Amendment attorney Brad Shafer, whose practice includes the defense of adult cabarets in several states, said that he had no clients in Nebraska, and was unaware of any other pro-speech attorneys who do.