An attempt to increase the regulation of what some call pornography and others call the adult entertainment industry has cleared the House on a strong vote and now returns to the Senate with a little more than a day left in the legislative session.

Critics assail HCS/SS/SCS/SBs 586&617 as an infringement on citizen’s rights, an attempt to force one person’s morals on another and as ineffective, the argument Rep. Curt Dougherty (D-Independence) makes. Dougherty says supporters have been fooled into believing the regulation of sexually oriented businesses works.

“And they’re baited into thinking this is a cure-all. You put your head in the sand. You see a brick and mortar store. You throw rocks at it. Poof! It goes away and it’s all much better now. The whole world becomes Technicolor,” Dougherty tells colleagues. “Well, it don’t really work that way. This all goes to the Internet. It all goes under ground. It stops nothing.”

Opponents divided the bill into four parts. The House approved all four parts, and then gave the bill final approval 118-28. It now returns to the Senate with the 6pm Friday deadline looming.

The bill would enforce a number of regulations on sexually oriented businesses. No adult stores would be allowed within a thousand feet of a school, church, day care, public library, park or another sexually oriented business. Felons will not be allowed to own a sexually oriented store.

Nudity would not be allowed in live strip shows. There would be restrictions both on the strippers and the stage on which they perform. Semi-nudity would be allowed only on stage, a stage at least 18 inches off the floor, at least six feet from any patron in a room measuring at least 600 square feet. Performers would not be allowed to touch a patron or the patron’s clothing.

Adult video stores must maintain an unobstructed view of all areas of the story, with the exception of the restroom.

Sexually oriented businesses will have 180 days to comply with the new law once it goes into effect. Businesses will not be allowed to operate between midnight and 6am. The businesses will not be allowed to sell liquor or allowed it to be consumed on the premise. Local governments would be allowed to impose stricter regulations.

Sponsor Ed Emery, a Republican representative from Lamar, closes debate on the bill by noting its length and acrimony.

“There’s been a lot of debate on this. It has been called divisive. It’s definitely divisive. We saw the division. We saw the division in the debate. We saw the division in the vote,” Emery says. “And I think Missouri has seen the division for what’s ahead in the state. Mr. Speaker this bill is good for the future of Missouri.”

The Senate might pick up the bill tonight.