Mo. lawmakers passes new restrictions on sexually oriented businesses

Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation that would tighten restrictions on sexually oriented businesses has passed the Missouri General Assembly.

The bill would bar alcohol sales and full nudity at strip clubs, restrict where new adult businesses can locate, and bar those under 18 from patronizing them.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Matt Bartle (R, Lee's Summit).

"Would you want a porn shop to open up in your neighborhood, or down the road on the corner? The answer is almost uniformly, 'no,'" Bartle said from the Senate floor.

Bartle sponsored a similar bill five years ago that passed the Senate but died in the House after then-speaker Rod Jetton sent it to an unfriendly committee. The move came days after the adult entertainment industry gave $35,000 to a campaign committee. The FBI has been investigating the incident.

State Representative Ed Emery (R, Lamar) sponsored the bill in the House.

"It's an attempt to reduce the opportunity to misbehave, so that a lot of these secondary effects can be contained, including blight, property value drops, littering of sexual materials, drug trafficking, prostitution, a lot of those things that tend to gravitate to those businesses," Emery said.

The bill was passed by the Missouri Senate in February, and then spent three months in the House before passing there on Thursday.

Bartle believes the adult entertainment industry was responsible for the bill's slow movement.

"I think the porn shops have worked very, very hard to try to prevent its passage...we'll see whether anybody chooses to filibuster the bill in the Senate," Bartle said before the final Senate vote.

There was no filibuster attempt, but there was opposition to the bill from State Senator Jolie Justus (D, Kansas City).

"There is a business owner in my district who came to me and said, 'If this bill goes into effect without any changes, I have 140 employees that are going to be looking for work," Justus said during Senate debate. "Tonight, we're going to kill an industry that brings in anywhere from $7 to $10 million in revenue...we're going to kill small business tonight."

Justus also said authorities in her city are more than capable of regulating the adult entertainment industry.

The bill now goes to Governor Jay Nixon for his signature.