By Barbara Shoun
JEFFERSON CITY – Sexually-oriented businesses will have to follow stricter regulations if the governor signs off on legislation that was passed by the House and Senate in the final hours of Missouri’s 96th General Assembly.
Senate Bill 586 (SB 586), sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, was combined with a bill, SB 617, sponsored by Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon, to spell out guidelines for the operation of such businesses operating in local communities.
The legislation was approved by the Senate in February by a vote of 29-2 but didn’t clear the House of Representatives until this year’s legislative session was nearly over.
Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, guided the Senate bill in the House and was able to get it before the full House on May 12. It was debated until midnight and then held over for further negotiations until the next day.
Just before noon May 13, SB 586 & 617 was approved in the House 118-28. It was returned to the Senate where it was passed 27-4 just before 8 p.m.
Gov. Jay Nixon has 15 days in which he can sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or do nothing – in which case it automatically becomes law.
The law applies to businesses defined as bookstores, video stores, cabarets, and motion picture theaters that offer “adult” products or entertainment.
Secondary adverse effects which the legislation seeks to prohibit or correct include negative impacts on surrounding properties, public indecency, prostitution, sexual assault and exploitation, and other factors.
Specifically, the new legislation will prohibit sexually-oriented businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a pre-existing school, church, licensed day care, public library, public park, or residence.
The legislation will bar total nudity and restrict semi-nude activity, including the provision that semi-nude employees of such establishments must not come into physical contact with patrons.
Businesses will have to close between midnight and 6 a.m. Alcohol may not be sold, served or consumed on the premises, and persons under 18 years of age will not be allowed to enter.
David Tolliver, executive director of Missouri Baptist Convention, said the law is a good thing for Missouri.
“I am in favor of anything that will keep those businesses away from schools and children, even older children–anything that will raise morals,” he said.