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Jasper County waiting on state to act on adult-business measure

CARTHAGE, Mo. — While acknowledging that state action is increasingly unlikely, Jasper County officials will wait until the end of the legislative session before deciding whether to act on an ordinance targeting sexually oriented businesses.

Presiding Commissioner John Bartosh said Thursday that he had contacted area legislators to press for action on a bill sponsored by Rep. Ed Emery [pictured], R-Lamar, that would increase regulation of businesses such as adult-video stores.

The measure has been heard by the House Local Government Committee, but it is not scheduled for a vote by lawmakers, who will adjourn this year’s session on May 16.

“The clock is ticking,” said John Putnam, a member of Citizens for a Decent Environment, a group that organized to oppose current and proposed sexually oriented businesses in the area.

Putnam, who testified in favor of the House bill two weeks ago, said Emery had told him that the committee chairwoman did not think the House bill would be passed this session.

“But,” Putnam said he was told, “there was a possibility it could be attached to a Senate bill and get acted on that way.”

The group organized to fight an adult business that opened on Interstate 44 between Joplin and Sarcoxie, but it has since broadened its scope to address other businesses in the region. Another could open up at any time, Pete Connelly, a group member, told the County Commission.

Bartosh said he is continuing to talk with a lawyer about the possibility of a local ordinance. But he said he would prefer action by the state rather than a county ordinance that the county might have to defend in court.

“I’d rather the state handle it, because that could cost the county a lot of money,” he said.

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