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Published: Saturday, 6/16/2007

Attorney general approves petition drive for foes of stripper law


COLUMBUS - Ohio strip club owners and performers fighting new restrictions passed by the General Assembly received a green light yesterday from the attorney general to begin gathering signatures to put the issue directly to voters in November.

Attorney General Marc Dann yesterday determined that a summary of the language that would appear on the petitions is a "fair and truthful statement" of the proposed ballot question's impact.

Citizens for Community Standards, a play on the name of the conservative Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values that championed the law, wants to ask voters to repeal it.

The law would require strip clubs, X-rated theaters, adult book and video stores, and other "sexually oriented businesses" to close between midnight and 6 a.m. Clubs with liquor licenses allowing them to stay open until 2 a.m. could do so, but no fully nude entertainment would be permitted during those hours.

Performers or patrons who violate a tougher "no-touch" rule while the performer is still nude or seminude could be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

If the touch involves a "specified anatomical area," defined as the genitals, the pubic region, and a portion of the female breast, the charge would be elevated to a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Supporters of the repeal effort must file at least 241,366 valid signatures of registered voters before the law's Sept. 4 effective date to place the law on hold pending the referendum.

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