Senate vote likely scraps new limits on sex businesses

TOPEKA — In a vote that could foreshadow campaign postcards of 2012, state senators Wednesday almost certainly killed a bill designed to drive sexually oriented businesses out of business.

By a vote of 22-17, the senators opted not to pull the Community Defense Act out of a committee that had voted down an identical measure earlier this year.

Among its major provisions, the bill would:

* Prevent new sexually oriented businesses from locating within 1,000 feet of any home, school, church, park, library or other adult business.

* Prohibit nude or topless dancing and require a 6-foot separation between performers and patrons.

* Ban private video-viewing booths.

* Require operators to constantly monitor their customers.

* Require adult-oriented businesses to be closed from midnight to 6 a.m.

Businesses affected would include strip clubs, adult bookstores and shops selling sex toys.

The House had put the language of the act into an old Senate bill, which forced the senators to vote.

Because Senate President Steve Morris had declared the bill "materially altered" from what the Senate originally passed, Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, needed 24 votes to bring the bill out of committee for a floor vote.

Tuesday's vote keeps the bill in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which is not scheduled to meet again.

Asked if he had any more options to try to force a floor debate, Abrams said, "I'm not aware of any for this year."

In House debate last week, several representatives said they wanted to put senators in the position of having to agree to the House's restrictions on adult businesses or take a vote that could be portrayed in campaign ads as supporting pornography.

"What I want to see is every senator who will not bring this out ... have to run against that when they're up for re-election, OK," Rep. Owen Donohoe, R-Shawnee, said last week.

Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Bel Aire, shepherded the bill through the House.

Asked about the comments on using the vote as a campaign wedge issue against senators, he said: "I don't know that they should expect it. But I wouldn't be surprised if responsible Kansans in the state want to hold their senators accountable."