Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Senate Bill to Ban Alcohol and Lap Dances at Strip Clubs?

One of the benefits to being a person who keeps an eye on politics is that you have lots of friends and acquaintances that keep their eyes on politics, too.  That means that when there's a lot going on, like there is right now with the bills introduced in the Statehouse, you have others catching things that you might have otherwise overlooked.  That was the case with my posting yesterday, and it's the case with this post.  Thanks to Audrey Miller-Queckboerner for posting a link to this bill in the open-to-the-public Libertarian Legislative Thinktank on Facebook.

Today, I'm taking a peek at SB 183, authored by Senators Jim Banks, Dennis Kruse, and Scott Schneider.  This bill requires a little bit more deciphering than the one I covered yesterday, as it is a little bit more complicated in the number of issues it covers.  I did contact Senator Banks seeking explanation in clear language of exactly what he hoped to accomplish with this bill, but have not yet heard a response. (That message was only recently sent, and I will update here if I hear back from him.)

Jim Banks (R)

SB 183 consists of several small pieces, and they seem to ultimately have one goal in mind:  Shut down the state's strip clubs.  Sure, the bill doesn't specifically call for strip clubs to close, or for them to be made illegal.  But the bill does seem to take aim at many of the features of strip clubs, which would doubtless cause most of them to close.  Let's take a look at the bill, starting with the synopsis.

Synopsis: Sexually oriented businesses. Defines "sexually oriented business". Prohibits the sale or use of alcohol at a sexually oriented business. Establishes certain requirements concerning persons who own a sexually oriented business, and prohibits the establishment of a sexually oriented business in certain locations. Provides that a person less than 18 years of age may not enter a sexually oriented business, prohibits an employee who is regularly in a state of seminudity from touching a patron, and establishes requirements concerning the design, size, furnishings, and hours of operation of a sexually oriented business. Specifies that a sexually oriented business that repeatedly violates certain requirements is an indecent nuisance and is subject to abatement in the same manner as other indecent nuisances.

Right off the bat, one thing sticks out to me.  This bill prohibits the sale or use of alcohol at a "sexually oriented business."  Wait a alcohol at strip clubs?  Are you serious?  The idea is so laughable that on first reading I believed that the bill's definition of a "sexually oriented business" surely was more geared around adult bookstores than strip clubs.  Reading further into the bill, though, I'm forced to believe that the bill includes both.

Scott Schneider (R)

"Establishes certain requirements concerning persons who own a sexually oriented business."  Depending on what requirements lie within, this doesn't seem so bad.  There are plenty of industries that have requirements as to who can own or work for them.  If these requirements state things like pimps and prostitutes cannot be the owners, then I do not object based on the current illegality of those jobs.  Not having pimps or prostitutes own a strip club seems like a reasonable step to keep those clubs from becoming brothels. That does appear to be the way the bill is written, so I won't dwell on it further.

"Provides that a person under 18 years of age may not enter a sexually oriented business."  No problems with that.

"Prohibits an employee who is regularly in a state of seminudity from touching a patron" This seems to be directly aimed at lap dances.  The definition of semi nudity according to the bill involves the showing of any part of the female breast below a horizontal line drawn across the top of each breast's areola.  So, basically, not only would nude breasts qualify, but so would "side boob" and "bottom boob."  I've never understood why the bottom of the boob was somehow dirtier than top, but it seems to be a common thought. 

In the case of this bill, not only would a stripper with her top off be unable to give a lap dance, but even if she left her top on during the lap dance, but took it off while she was on stage.  The bill specifically states:

An employee who regularly appears in a seminude condition in a sexually oriented business who knowingly or intentionally touches a customer or the clothing of a customer while on the premises of the sexually oriented business commits unlawful touching at a sexually oriented business, a Class C misdemeanor.

So lap dances are allowed only if the stripper keeps her clothes on both during the lap dance and while dancing on stage.  So, really, lap dances are not allowed.

Beyond lap dances, the bill also addresses some of the specifics of stage dancing.  As noted, if stage dancing is allowed, lap dances are not.  In addition, stage dances can only occur if the club is >600 sq ft (probably not an issue to most clubs), if the stage is at least 18" from the floor (again, probably not much of an issue), and if the dancer is at least 6 feet from all patrons when in a "semi-nude" state.  This basically means that the "front row" seating in most strip clubs instantly becomes illegal, as does any dancer having her top off while walking through the general seating area of the club, even immediately after completing a stage dance.

The law goes on to state that all "sexually oriented businesses" must close by midnight each day. I'm really not sure what could possibly be going on after midnight that isn't possible before midnight, but it's still part of the bill.

The biggest concern most clubs will have from the bill, though, is undoubtedly the alcohol provision. 

Dennis Kruse (R)

Sec. 11. A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally sells, furnishes, barters, uses, or consumes an alcoholic beverage on the premises of a sexually oriented business commits use of alcohol at a sexually oriented business, a Class C misdemeanor.

That's right.  As I pointed out earlier, this bill would ban alcohol in strip clubs.

Give me a break, Senators.  This bill is not about doing anything but putting all strip clubs in the state out of business.  You've not had any luck making the clubs themselves illegal in the past, so now you try to get rid of them by dismantling them from their foundation up.  No alcohol + No lap dances +No nudity in proximity of attendees = No strip clubs.  We know what you're up to, here.


  1. Minneapolis or St. Paul (can't recall which) went through this 20+ years ago. They got their law passed.

    The strip clubs built walls and divided themselves into two businesses: one that sold alcohol and another (on the opposite side of a very large plate glass windows) that featured scantily clad women.

  2. This all harks back to the decision to create the Indianapolis Convention Center at its present location. Prior to that, the original Red Garter seemed to keep most of the legislature fairly entertained while the boys were in session. Instead of this proposed legislation, someone ought to propose that the state create its own "enterprise zone for legislative entertainment" at a location as convenient as the old Red Garter was. Lots less animosity back then, I'm thinking.