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Ohio Referendum Now Claims 318,000 Signatures

COLUMBUS — A state board has OK’d ballot language for a November referendum being pushed by a group trying to overturn legislation placing limits on activities at sexually oriented businesses.

The Ohio Ballot Board unanimously approved Issue 1, the only issue that may appear on the general election ballot in November, officially titled the “Referendum on Substitute Senate Bill No. 16.”

The language will be used if the Dancers for Democracy and the Citizens for Community Standards successfully gather about 241,000 valid signatures on petitions from registered voters across the state.

Neil Clark, campaign manager who attended the board meeting, said the group has collected about 318,000 signatures to date and is averaging 8,000-9,000 more a day.

He said he expected to turn in about 400,000 by Sept. 3.

Local election boards then will be given the task of verifying signatures. Organizers have said their name-gathering efforts will continue throughout that process to ensure additional signatures are in hand if sufficient numbers prove invalid.

Senate Bill 16 was initiated by a the Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values. It prohibits sexually oriented businesses not holding valid liquor licenses from operating between midnight and 6 a.m.

Those with liquor licenses could stay open provided they cease from offering sexually oriented entertainment involving nude performers.

It also institutes a statewide ban on physical contact between club employees who are nude or semi-nude or with patrons.

Violators will face first-degree misdemeanor charges for touching specified anatomical areas and fourth-degree misdemeanors for touching other parts.

Business affected include adult bookstores, adult video stores, adult cabarets, adult motion picture theaters, sexual device shop or a sexual encounter center, according to an analysis of the bill compiled by the state’s Legislative Service Commission.

Voters would be asked to mark yes if they agree with the legislation, which already was approved by the Ohio House and Senate earlier this year and is set to take effect without Gov. Ted Strickland’s signature. Those opposed would vote no.

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