Legislators Drop Adult Tax, Reconsider Obscenity

Michael Hayes
TOPEKA, Kan. – The Legislature is once again taking aim at adult-oriented businesses in Kansas. On the agenda: obscenity, highway signs and taxes.

According to an Associated Press report, the House gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ease restrictions on obscenity prosecutions. The bill, which will go to a final vote on Wednesday, removes the phrase “sexually provocative aspect” from the definition of what would constitute illegal material.

With the “sexually provocative” language absent, the law essentially tracks federal law. The change comes in response to comments from the Kansas Supreme Court in the 1990s, that expressed reservations about the constitutionality of the text.

“[The bill] will re-establish having an enforceable criminal statute in Kansas,” Rep. Lance Kinzer told the AP.

The House also gave preliminary approval to an amended Senate bill that restricts highway signs advertising adult-oriented businesses. An earlier measure by Sen. Tim Huelskamp failed to make it out of committee. The current proposal limits businesses within a mile of the highway to two signs. One sign, which cannot exceed 40 square feet, may only list the business’ name, address, phone number and hours. A second sign can say that the business is off-limits to minors.

"I think we have the votes in the full Senate for this," Huelskamp told the AP. "It's good for children and families and sends a message that Kansas is a family friendly state."

With two bills targeted at adult entertainment in the state, the legislature decided not to push for a third. The House Taxation Committee elected not to send its measure, a 10 percent tax on adult-oriented businesses such as strip clubs and adult bookstores, to the full House for approval. That decision, according to Chairman Kenny Wilk, was based on news from Utah, where a similar law faces a legal challenge. Instead, Kansas will adopt a wait-and-see approach for now.

“Let’s stand back and see what we learn from the Utah litigation and be better informed next year,” Wilk told the AP.