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Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Committee considers limits on signs for adult businesses

February 22, 2006

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— The way Sen. Tim Huelskamp sees it, families should be able to drive down Kansas roadways, enjoy the beauty of the state and not have to look at advertisements for sexually oriented businesses.

"What we are seeing is an incredible growth in signs dealing with sexually oriented businesses. My concern is Kansas families, when driving down the highways, not be exposed to these signs," Huelskamp, R-Fowler, told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

The committee took no action on the bill after Tuesday's hearing.

Under the bill, no sign or other outdoor advertising for a sexually oriented business could be within a mile of any highway or interstate. A business within a mile of such roadways could post no more than two signs - one no more than 40 square feet with the name, address, phone number and operating hours, and another noting the premises are off-limits to minors.

Signs already in place could remain for three years after the bill becomes law.

The bill is modeled on a 2004 Missouri law that has been upheld by a U.S. District Court judge, said Jim Jenkins, attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund's Kansas office.

"If it's challenged in Kansas, I feel the federal judge will take notice of the decision in Missouri," Jenkins said.

Also speaking in favor of the bill was Phillip Cosby, of Abilene, who has traveled around Kansas talking to ministers and others about trying to rein in or shut down sexually oriented businesses, which he called "an open sewer to Kansas communities."

He said an adult store near Interstate 70 in his hometown has a 15-by-30-foot sign with "Adult Superstore" in yellow letters.

The effort to restrict signs along highways isn't the only way legislators are trying to deal with sexually oriented businesses in the state.

The House Taxation Committee recently heard testimony for a bill to impose a 10 percent tax on strip clubs, escort services, adult book stores and similar businesses. The bill was sent to a subcommittee for reworking.

"I didn't send it to a subcommittee to kill it; the committee will vote on it," said Chairman Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing.

The estimated $1 million from the tax on revenues would be used to finance programs for such things as helping sex crime victims and prosecuting those using the Internet to commit sex crimes against children.

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