HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Lawmakers are considering a bill to put tighter regulations on strip clubs and to require strippers and others in the adult entertainment industry to register with the state, a proposal designed to combat sex trafficking.
Rep. Matt Baker, the main force behind the bill, which has attracted more than 60 co-sponsors, said he wants to shine a light on the industry.
“A lot of faith-based organizations have a lot of concern about this,” said Baker, R-Bradford. “It assures women can’t be passed around and exploited in Pennsylvania without alerting law enforcement.”
But such a registry would be a waste of money, said Angelina Spencer, chief executive of the Washington, D.C-based Association of Club Executives, an industry group. She said some places require permits but she isn’t aware of any statewide registry for all club employees.
“The general premise of the idea is laudable, but I believe that this violates privacy,” she said.
She said a program of age verification that requires clubs to keep records for years after an employee leaves would be cheaper and more effective without invading privacy. She said an industry initiative called Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking has trained several thousand people in 32 cities in the past five years.
Baker’s bill, which could go before the House Judiciary Committee early next week, would require adult-oriented businesses to register with the Department of State, naming partners and relating the criminal history of “any person with an influential interest” in the business. The cost would be $300.
An employee registration, which would cost $50, would have to include a photo and the person’s name, height and weight, date of birth, home address and phone number, along with other information.
Baker said an amendment was being drafted to specify the registry would be available only to law enforcement, not available to the public under the Right-to-Know Law.
Baker, who said he has never been inside a strip club, also wants to stop clubs with nudity from serving alcohol.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said there’s nothing in state law or board regulations that would prohibit exotic dancing or lap dances at places it licenses. A provision in the Liquor Code that banned “lewd, immoral or improper entertainment” was struck down by a federal appeals court in 2006.
Baker said his bill, by removing liquor sales from clubs with full nudity, would test the limits of the federal court precedent.
Strippers associated with a club in Washington state went to federal court in October to block a man’s request for their county-issued business licenses and their identities. Most cities and counties in Washington require special licenses for dancers and managers at strip clubs.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)