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Kansas Now Looking to Limit Adult Store Hours

TOPEKA — from – Opponents of sexually oriented businesses in Kansas aren’t giving up on trying to limit their operations, even though the state attorney general says he won’t enforce a law restricting their signs along highways.

Phillip Cosby, the leader of a statewide campaign against pornography and adult stores, is promising to push for broader legislation after the Legislature reconvenes in January. A proposal to limit stores’ hours and locations was drafted by the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year and is still pending.

“There’s a really good chance that we’ll have an opportunity to have a debate on that bill,” committee chairman Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said Wednesday. “That’s certainly much more comprehensive in nature than just the sign issue.”

The bill drafted by Kinzer’s committee would prohibit adult stores within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries, public parks, private homes, day care centers, houses of worship or even another adult store. They would also have to close between midnight and 6 a.m.

It was the latest in a series of proposals against adult stores. In 2006, legislators enacted the sign law, arguing that such a step would lessen problems such as prostitution, crime and the lessening of property values.

“They cannot afford to not have somebody do something about this tsunami of the sex industry that’s happening around us,” said Cosby, a retired Army master sergeant from Overland Park.

Businesses had until July 1, 2009, to modify existing billboards so that those within a mile of a highway were not more than 40 square feet or had more than the store’s name, location, phone number and operating hours.

The Lion’s Den Adult Superstore, which is along Interstate 70 in Abilene, sued in U.S. District Court, arguing that the law was an improper restraint of commercial free speech. To settle the suit, Attorney General Steve Six signed an agreement Tuesday with the Lion’s Den attorneys saying the state would not enforce the law.

He has noted a judge’s order that had blocked the enforcement of the law until trial suggested that the Lion’s Den would win the case.

Six said that as a parent of four children, he endorses efforts to restrict adult stores but added that lawmakers need to first consider whether their proposals are constitutional.

“Statutes that run afoul of the Kansas or U.S. Constitution can be very costly to Kansas taxpayers,” he said in a statement.

Stephen Joseph, a Wichita attorney who represents adult stores, said he’s not surprised they’ll face legislative attempts to restrict them. He chalked it up to politics, conservative lawmakers appealing to their political base.

“The adult entertainment businesses make the most money by far where there’s legislative and social repression,” he said. “Why do you think adult entertainment places come to Kansas?”

Cosby said he’ll pursue passage of the proposed “Community Defense Act” drafted by the House Judiciary Committee.

“This problem has multiple layers and multiple opportunities to make a difference,” he said.

A Kansas City, Mo., attorney representing the Lion’s Den did not return telephone messages Wednesday.

But Joseph said the state can restrict store locations — if those restrictions, in total, don’t eliminate all possible sites. He said a restriction on operating hours would be unconstitutional.


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