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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2007

Ohio's strip-club proposal nation's toughest, paper says


COLUMBUS - A proposal to limit the hours strip clubs could be open and how close dancers could get to patrons is one of the nation's toughest, despite assurances by conservative backers that the proposal mirrors laws in many other states, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The finding was the latest in a series of pitfalls that converged yesterday in the House to stall the measure, which is backed by the group that spearheaded Ohio's 2004 gay marriage ban.

"It's got some problems," said House Judiciary Chairman Lou Blessing, a Cincinnati Republican. "I don't have four hours a day to spend on this when we have other more important things to work on."

Of the laws in states cited by the bill's supporters, only Tennessee's restrictions resembled the Ohio proposal, a review by the Columbus Dispatch found.

Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values gathered 142,511 signatures on a petition to put the proposal before the Republican-controlled legislature. It has cleared the Senate.

The bill would require a 6-foot buffer between dancers and patrons at all times, even if the performers are clothed. It also would force sexually oriented businesses - including adult bookstores and strip clubs - to close from midnight to 6 a.m. Strip clubs with liquor permits could stay open, but entertainment would have to stop at midnight.

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland expressed frustration Tuesday at the time spent debating the proposal when health care, unemployment, and school funding deserve more attention.

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