Prior to the passage of H.B. 23 in 2006, the 1,308 townships in Ohio had very little authority to address the problems associated with sexually oriented businesses within their jurisdiction. H.B. 23 simply extended to every political subdivision in the state the necessary home rule authority to do so according to the specific needs of each community.
The House-passed version of H.B. 23 on a vote of 92-5 not only included the home rule authority for townships but also statewide standards for all sexually oriented businesses regarding their hours of operation and the distance required between employees and patrons. The Senate-passed version of H.B. 23 removed the statewide standards, and then was concurred and accepted by the House.
Numerous studies identifying the adverse secondary effects of this industry point to a compelling state interest for these two statewide standards. Therefore, in response to a voter-initiated petition bearing the signatures of over 220,000 Ohio citizens, the Secretary of State on January 2, 2007 transmitted to the General Assembly a bill entitled the “Community Defense Act” (CDA) in accordance with constitutional guidelines for such.
Passage of CDA will set minimum standards for adult businesses in Ohio to ensure that the industry will be regulated in order to eliminate or mitigate their negative effects of-
- increased crime (sexual crimes, prostitution, illegal drugs, etc.),
- decreased property values of the surrounding residential and business property,
- and the devastation brought to so many marriages and families.
Townships certainly will want to do everything within their power to take advantage of the authority given them by H.B. 23 to address those problems within their jurisdiction. But the affect of such regulations could be greatly diminished by adjacent communities that do not have at least these two regulations in place.
The focus of CDA is to place two regulations on all sexually oriented businesses, establishing a uniform minimum industry standard in Ohio law to address the problems associated with sexually oriented businesses.
Numerous government studies (available upon request from Citizens For Community Values) have documented adverse secondary effects associated with sexually oriented businesses. These include the following:
- Increased crime, especially, but not limited to, crimes of a sexual nature;
- Decreased property values, both residential and commercial; and
- Urban blight, the general downgrading of the surrounding areas.
Less well documented but undeniable and equally deleterious to Ohio’s communities are the adverse effects that sexually oriented businesses too often have on the marriages and families of those who frequent them. Considerable direct and indirect costs are attached to the breakdown of marriages, the dismantling of families, and the accompanying loss of individual productivity.
Although the passage of CDA would provide a statewide minimum standard for sexually oriented businesses, the bill continues to allow local communities to extend regulations farther than state law to address issues specific to each locality.
COURT APPROVED STANDARDS
Regularly, local communities in Ohio are forced to deal with the problems of adult businesses. Many spend years and countless thousands of taxpayer dollars to defend common sense regulatory protections challenged by this industry. CDA will help alleviate this burden on local governments and local budgets. The United States Supreme Court, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and other federal courts have consistently upheld the rights of governments to implement the two regulations of this proposed legislation:
- Employees who regularly appear nude or semi-nude would be required to maintain a six-foot (6’) distance from patrons while on the premises. Violation of this provision is a first-degree misdemeanor. Cases that support this distance requirement include:
- DLS, Inc. v. City of Chattanooga, 107 F.3d 403 (6th Cir. 1997)
- Kentucky Restaurant Concepts, Inc. v. City of Louisville and Jefferson County, 209 Fed. Supp. 2d 672 (W. D. Ky 2002)
- Gammoh v. City of La Habra, 395 f.3d 1114 (9th Cir. 2005)
- Richland Bookmart, Inc. v. Nichols, 278 F3d 570 (6th Cir. 2002);
- Ctr. For Fair Public Policy v. Maricopa County, 336 F.3d 1153 (9th Cir. 2003).
OTHER APPLICABLE CASE LAW
See FULL TEXT OF PROPOSED LAW, §3768.03 Rationale and findings; construction for expanded list of cases and studies. Noteworthy cases include:
- City of Erie v. Pap’s AM 529 US 277 (2000)
- City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc. 475 US 41 (1986)
- Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. 501 US 560 (1991)
- Déjà Vu of Cincinnati, LLC v. Union Township Board of Trustees, 411 F.3d 777 (6th Cir. 2005, en banc)
- Bamon Corp. v. City of Dayton 923 F.2d 470 (6th Cir. 1991)
OTHER STATE LAWS ALREADY ON THE BOOKS
Several states already have statewide regulations in place to regulate sexually oriented businesses including Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Rules similar to CDA exist in the following states:
- Delaware: Hours of operation limited to 10:00am–10:00pm, Mon-Sat, no Sundays or state holidays
- Arizona: Hours of operation limited to 8:00am–1:00am, Mon-Sat, 12:00noon-1:00am Sundays
- Tennessee: No full nudity allowed on premises, 6ft distance required between performers and patrons, employees must be licensed, no direct tipping or touching allowed
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Bills that come before the General Assembly by voter-initiative have a limited time for consideration. The Legislature has a four-month period in which to pass, amend, vote down or ignore the bill, in this case from January 2 – May 1, 2007.
If the action taken by the Legislature is not acceptable to the committee representing the petitioners, the committee may collect additional signatures on a supplemental petition equal in number to those required on the first submission – 120,688 registered voters. Supplemental signers cannot have signed the first petition and the petitions must be submitted within 90 days starting May 2. If a sufficient number of signatures are validated, the bill will be submitted to the voters on the next general election ballot for approval or rejection.
WHAT’S THE BILL’S STATUS AND WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The current status of this bill is that it has been passed by a very wide margin in the Ohio Senate. It is currently in the House Ohio House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Louis Blessing (R)-Cincinnati. The bill passed by the Senate is currently in jeopardy in the Judiciary Committee and Chairman Blessing is wavering on his commitment to move the bill substantially intact to the House floor. House leadership, which assured pro-family leaders only two weeks ago that the bill would pass the House unchanged, are now buckling under intense pressure from strip club lobbying firms. They threaten to amend the bill to the point where it is made a toothless shadow of its intended design. Please contact Chairman Blessing, and the Ohio House of Representatives leadership, House Speaker Jon Husted, Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Dewine, Majority Floor Leader Larry Flowers, Assistant Majority Floor Leader Jim Carmichael, House Majority Whip Bill Seitz, and House Assistant Majority Whip Michelle Schneider.
Please contact your representative and House leadership no later than the afternoon of Monday May 14! Ask them, firmly but politely, to pass the Senate version of the bill. As always a letter or phone call is best! Faxes and emails are often ignored or shredded by representatives and staffers.
If the House defangs this legislation, and it appears likely that they will, be prepared to volunteer to pass petitions at your churches, civic groups, etc.