Kansas House panel rejects tougher rules for adult businesses

Legislation banning alcohol, total nudity and semi-nude lap dances inside Kansas clubs was rejected Friday by a state House committee, a setback for advocates who had hoped a new crop of conservative lawmakers would enact tough statewide regulations on sexually oriented businesses.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee first narrowed the proposed Community Defense Act, limiting it to preventing new sexually oriented businesses from being located near homes, schools and houses of worship.

One conservative lawmaker worried that the original rules would have driven sexually oriented businesses underground.

But some social conservatives who backed the original, tougher version refused to vote for the revised measure, and it failed on a voice vote.

The committee’s actions surprised some supporters of the original measure. They had anticipated having to possibly relent on provisions banning alcohol or forcing such businesses to close at midnight, but they had expected most of the restrictions to pass.

The House easily approved similar legislation in 2011, only to watch it die in committee in the Senate the next year. Conservative Republicans took control of the Senate after last year’s elections, and supporters of the bill believe that the Senate is receptive to regulating sexually oriented businesses.

“We used to have great favor in the House for this bill,” said Phillip Cosby, state director for the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri, a retired Army sergeant from Overland Park who has been the most visible advocate of the legislation. “The House has more of, perhaps, a libertarian bent. I can’t fully explain it.”