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Missouri Removes Porn Billboards

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Mar 19, 2004 9:43 AM PST    Text size: 
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The abundance of adult entertainment billboards in Jefferson City and the flood of complaints from family residents has spurred Missouri legislators into action.

According to reports, two separate bills were recently approved by the state House and Senate that aim to ban the majority of highway billboards, which in certain parts of the state have become a public nuisance and have concerned many parents over inappropriate exposure for children.

"We need to make sure when we have families driving down the road that we don't have to worry about the children saying, `What's "XXX" or "totally red hot nude"?'" one of the bill's supporters was quoted as saying.

The Missouri highway system plays host to an estimated 12,000 billboards, many of which are "sex-themed," say lawmakers.

The billboard ban would include advertisements from adult entertainment companies, where workers either appear nude or where more than 10 percent of the business sells pornographic material, Newsday reports.

Adult businesses would be allowed just two signs: one that identifies the nature of the business and one that warns minors to stay off the premises.

But First Amendment supporters and adult business owners are saying that by singling out adult entertainment companies, any proposed law banning certain billboards would infringe on their free speech rights.

"To just simply restrict certain billboards based on speech, there will be high First Amendment hurdles," a First Amendment lawyer was quoted as saying.

Missouri joins several neighboring states in trying to ban sex-related billboards, including Wyoming, Utah, and Clark County, Nev., were an ordinance is being shopped around that would permanently ban roadside billboards, regardless of the nature of the business.

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