Bill in Kansas House could put restrictions on strip clubs
by Dennis Sharkey
Kansas legislators are working on a bill that would make a proposed strip club near Meriden illegal.
House bill 2107, otherwise known as the Community Defense Act, has been sent to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee but no hearings have been scheduled.
It’s the second attempt in as many years by the legislature to put tough regulations on strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses (SOB).
The bill says that no person would be allowed to establish a SOB within 1,000 feet of a preexisting public or private school, day care, house of worship, public library, park and other SOB.
The proposed SOB on K-4 Highway is about 900 feet from Jefferson West Middle School.
The bill also says that if enacted, the law would not apply to any SOB already legally established before the law’s effective date. Typically laws signed by the governor go into effect July 1.
Currently the proposed SOB near Meriden is not lawfully established and county commissioners held a public hearing concerning the conditional use permit for the club on Monday without a decision.
If commissioners ultimately vote against the permit, the matter could be tied up in courts for several months. Club owner Zach Snyder has vowed to take the matter to court if denied.
The bill would also regulate SOB hours of operation and how they operate. For example entertainers would not be allowed to get within six feet of patrons. Clubs would also be prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages. The bill is similar to a law that was passed in Missouri last year.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the House last year by a 106-16 vote but was deadlocked in the Senate 20-20.
Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, voted for the final bill last year and said last week that he has not seen or read this year’s bill but would support it if it contained the same language as last year. Holland said he is not really interested in the language that regulates the clubs but rather the language that would regulate where a SOB could be located.
“I do think people need to have a voice about where these things go,” he said. “Anything we can do to help give citizens a tool to keep these types of businesses away from what they feel like are vulnerable areas of the community.”
Rep. Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry, said he will testify in favor of the bill when it reaches committee. The bill has been assigned to the Federal and State Affairs committee but no hearings have been scheduled yet.
Gonzalez said he has spoken with the bill’s author Rep. Joe Patton, R-Topeka about the bill. Patton also sponsored the bill that passed the House last year. Gonzalez said he sought out Patton his first week in Topeka because the bill speaks to a hot issue in Jefferson County.
“I have personally knowledge of how it will impact our community,” he said.
Gonzalez said Patton was intrigued when he told him about the issue facing Jefferson County and Meriden.
Most of those opposed to the bill in the Senate last year were Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Jay Elmer, R-McPherson, voted against the bill last year. While casting his vote Elmer said the Senate had little time to even review the bill before voting. Other Republicans said they would not support the bill because it was government interfering in private enterprise and that the marketplace would dictate any businesses’ success or failure.
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