The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering SB 556, legislation that would strictly regulate sexually oriented businesses. Similar legislation has cleared the General Assembly in the past but has been struck down by the courts. Senator Matt Bartle (R-Lee’s Summit), who co-sponsors the legislation with Senator Jack Goodman (R-Mount Vernon), believes the components of this year’s legislation will successfully take on legal challenges.

“No sexually oriented business will be established within one thousand feet of a pre-existing school, a house of worship, a state-licensed daycare, public library, public park, residence, or other sexually oriented business,” said Bartle as he presented the before to the panel.

Bartle insists the legislation protects individuals and property.

“If you have a church you don’t want a smut shop going in next door,” said Bartle. “And if you’ve been there, you’ve been there first, your property value will be adversely affected if a porn shop does go in next door.”

Additionally, anyone with a previous sex-related criminal record would be barred from having an interest in a sexually oriented business. The legislation would also bar the operation of one of these businesses between midnight and 6 am.

Nellie Symm-Gruender and her husband own three sexually oriented businesses in Missouri. She rejects suggestions that criminal activity results from these businesses being in a community.

“No one in our store or around our store has ever been sexually assaulted or injured,” said Symm-Gruender. “So, secondary effects – I think that’s a frivolous term, quite honestly.”

She believes jurisdiction should be the domain of local governments.

In Columbia, where we are, there’s zoning issues and things like that,” Symm-Gruender told the panel. “But the local government can handle it.”

Symm-Gruender also suggests the adult industry bring a lot of money to Missouri, adding now is not the time to lose any businesses.

Audio: Senate hearing on sexually oriented businesses (24:00 MP3)