Adult business bill stalls in Kansas Senate

Republicans, Democrats evenly divided on issue

? A bill that would place tougher regulations on adult entertainment businesses stalled Wednesday in the Kansas Senate after a tie vote.

Now, the measure stays in negotiation between the Senate and House.

Legislative rules allow for any member to make a motion to pull a bill that’s in negotiation out of that process and force a vote to agree on its current form. It requires 21 out of 40 votes, a simple majority, to pass and go to the governor.

The bill calling for adult entertainment regulations would prohibit strip clubs, adult stores and other sexually oriented businesses from locating within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries, public parks, licensed day-care centers and churches. The adult businesses would have to close from midnight to 6 a.m.

Nudity would be outlawed. Dancers could be seminude but would have to remain at least 6 feet away from patrons.

Supporters said the measure was needed to improve the quality of life in Kansas communities and give law enforcement another tool to fight crime and other activities.

“I think this is commonsense regulation of an industry that is unacceptable in the state,” said Sen. Tim Huelskamp, a Fowler Republican who led the effort to push the chamber to approve the bill.

The Senate’s vote was 20-20. Republicans and Democrats were evenly divided on the issue.

Senators voting against Huelskamp’s effort said there were questions about how the law would be enforced and what it did to tie the hands of cities and counties to regulate the industry.

Huelskamp said that was one interpretation, but the House intent was to make the laws statewide so communities that couldn’t afford to fight the adult entertainment industry would be protected.

Others said there were more pressing issues than cracking down on adult entertainment. They said their constituents are more concerned about such things as how legislators propose to close a projected $510 million gap between spending and revenue in the 2011 budget.

“This bill is unwarranted and unnecessary,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat.

Senators have never considered legislation this session to regulate adult entertainment businesses. The proposal originated in the House and was inserted in a Senate bill that regulated alcohol sales.

Senate Federal and State Affair Committee Chairman Pete Brungardt, a Salina Republican, said the adult entertainment bill remained among several that he was negotiating with House counterparts. He made no promises that an agreement would be reached before the 2010 session closes, but said it would get some discussion.