Crime & Courts

Bill limiting adult businesses goes to Senate

TOPEKA — The owner of three Topeka adult entertainment businesses says that if the Kansas Legislature approves a bill restricting strip clubs and other similar establishments, he would likely go out of business.

The measure would put new restrictions on the locations of adult businesses including adult video and related stores that sell adult sex products. It has already passed the House and is scheduled for debate today in the Senate.

John Samples, who owns Club Orleans, Baby Dolls and the VIP Lounge in Shawnee County, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the regulations would force him to close his businesses.

"They claim it's not a killer bill, but it is," Samples said. "That's the whole point."

The bill would prohibit strip clubs, adult stores and other sexually oriented businesses from being within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries, public parks, licensed day care centers and houses of worship.

Sexually oriented businesses would have to close from midnight to 6 a.m. Nudity would be outlawed, and dancers could be seminude but would have to remain at least 6 feet away from patrons.

Some critics of the bill said the measure would shut down such businesses and put at least 2,500 Kansans out of work.

The new regulations would take effect in any city or county where the businesses aren't already regulated. Topeka and Shawnee County currently have no such restrictions.

Legislators said the bill is an effort to police communities by restricting these businesses which often attract crime, drugs and other illegal activities. A state law is being sought to help municipalities that lack the means to regulate the businesses through local ordinances.

"There are hundreds of cities and counties out there that have not passed regulations. They don't have the number of lawyers it takes to get those put in," said Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler.

Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller said the bill, though not prohibiting sexually oriented businesses, would help his staff deal with the possible secondary effects of prostitution, drug dealing, human trafficking, money laundering and extortion.

"The state regulates smoking," Miller said. "The state regulates alcohol consumption and sales. The state regulates banks and financial institutions. But there is no regulation of sexually oriented businesses? Kansas law enforcement believes there should be."

Samples argues no study has been conducted to validate the claims that adult businesses are ruining Kansas communities. He said the bill would likely face litigation challenging its constitutionality.

"The Legislature hasn't done the due diligence," he said. "Let's take a legitimate look at this and react to the facts in Kansas."