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Opponents testify on Kan. strip club bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Opponents said Friday that there is little evidence that a bill to restrict where strip clubs can operate in Kansas is necessary to fight crime, disease or blight.

The proposal would establish where adult businesses can be located, ban lap dances and regulate dancing onstage in various levels of undress. It would also cover adult arcades and bookstores.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee heard from Philip Bradley, who represents owners of adult entertainment clubs in Kansas. He presented studies that found that crime was lower in areas near strip clubs and that it is the economy that is putting the clubs out of business.

Bradley said cities and counties have regulated adult entertainment businesses and mitigated problems through local zoning and ordinances. Since most clubs also serve alcohol, law enforcement has reason to be inside the businesses to see that laws on underage drinking and others are being observed.

"This bill has been offered for years and yet there is no Kansas substantiated evidence," he said. "Recent events are just proving that local control is working and is best."

One of the studies Bradley offered was conducted by Alexander and Associates of Lawrence and another was by First Affirmative, a consulting firm established by Ashley McMillan, a former top-official in the Kansas Republican Party.

"I'm trying to find someone you would believe," Bradley said.

Bradley said both studies concluded that there were lower instances of crime at and near strip clubs in Kansas, in part, because of increased security measures put in place by the club owners to protect their patrons and business interests. While the studies did find a decline in property values in the counties that have strip clubs, those declines were attributed to the general downturn in values caused by other economic pressures.

The legislation was similar to new regulations approved in Missouri and upheld by that state's Supreme Court. Bradley described the Kansas bill as the Missouri bill "on steroids" because of its reach and scope to regulate adult entertainment clubs and businesses.

"You write laws for Kansas. We look at Kansas and what Kansas needs," Bradley said.

Bradley presented information from 2010 when a similar bill was considered that the measure could result in a loss of up to 1,000 jobs and more than $540,000 in taxes to state and local governments.

Phillip Cosby of the American Family Action of Kansas and Missouri, who also helped write the Missouri law, testified Thursday that the negative effects caused by strip clubs, such as the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, crime, blight and sexual trafficking of underage women.

"This is a very dark corner but law enforcement skirts around because there really aren't any tools," Cosby said.

He said the U.S. Supreme Court has given states the authority to regulate sexually oriented businesses by applying "common sense" regarding placement of the businesses, hours of operations and conduct of the dancers.

"(Sexually oriented businesses) are not engines of prosperity, but a community resource liability," Cosby said.

A similar measure cleared the House two years ago but stalled in the Senate. The House committee took no action on the bill Friday following testimony.