Ohio Eyes Statewide Strip Club Restrictions

On Tuesday, Ohio lawmakers heard testimony on a state Senate bill that would impose new restrictions on strip clubs, Vindicator.com reports.

Senate Bill 16 would prohibit nude clubs without liquor permits from operating after midnight. The bill also cracks down on lap-dancing, requiring a minimum six-foot distance between patrons and dancers and forbidding customers from "knowingly touching" the talent.

Supporters of the bill claim that a state law would protect local communities against First Amendment lawsuits arising from adult zoning issues. The bill's opponents argue that the law is backed by religious groups in an effort to ban adult entertainment entirely.

"What this bill is really intended to do is put the strip clubs completely out of business," said Karen Hockstad, a Columbus attorney who represents adult entertainment businesses. "Let them use the current laws on the books to enforce the laws. And for those who are breaking, shut them down. Don't put a blanket law in place — a statewide zoning code, if you will ..."

Hockstad noted that adult clubs do "about three-fourths of their business between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m."

"These clubs employ thousands of people statewide, and you're talking about millions of dollars in both income tax, employment tax and sales tax that will be lost," Hockstad told the website. "It's going to increase our unemployment rate [and] decrease our state revenues at a time when we can't afford to do so."