Cities could pass ordinances restricting how strip clubs operate if a bill that’s advancing in the Iowa House becomes law.
Representative Julian Garrett, a Republican from Indianola, says the controversy began when justices on the Iowa Supreme Court ruled state law “pre-empted” the City of Hamburg from enacting any restrictions on a local strip club.
“The city passed some regulations, didn’t prohibit them from doing businesses, but it regulated, had provisions about no alcohol on the premises,” Garrett says. “You couldn’t touch the patrons…there were just a lot of restrictions on what you could do at the club.”
The bill which has cleared a House subcommittee would let Iowa cities enforce those kind of regulations on the conduct of employees and customers inside businesses that feature nude dancers. Rita Bettis of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa says if the bill becomes law, it may be challenged in court on constitutional grounds — as a violation of free speech.
“Theoretically, under that Hamburg ordinance, it would sweep up a scientific display of early humans in a state of undress or any number of Broadway shows like ‘The Lion King’ that have elements of nudity,” Bettis says.
The owner of “Shotgun Geniez” in Hamburg filed a lawsuit against the city’s ordinance in December of 2008. Under the city’s rules, performers were barred from stripping ’til they were completely nude and the strippers were not allowed to accept tips. The ordinance was never enforced, however, given the pending lawsuit. In the summer of 2012 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the Hamburg strip club fell under the provisions of a state law that allows nudity in theaters.