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Texas Lawmaker Proposes Licenses to Work as Strippers

A bill has been filed by Texas State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, that would require employees of sexually oriented businesses to become licensed and display the license while on the job, according to The Star-Telegram. Zedler hopes it will deter women from entering into the profession.

“They won’t want to get a license as a stripper from the state of Texas,” Zedler said of his legislation. “I think it would keep a lot of girls from getting involved in that lifestyle and basically wrecking their lives. This will force everyone to clean up their act. Overall, it will be a benefit to everyone concerned.”

The bill proposed by Zedler also requires employees applying for licenses to attend a class about human trafficking. The bill was filed with the 83rd Legislative Session, which started today. Texas has passed other bills related to sexually oriented businesses in the past.

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One of those laws, the pole tax, was passed in 2007 and requires a $5 fee to enter a strip club in an effort to raise money for sexual assault prevention programs and healthcare for uninsured Texans. The law was held up in court for years and finally put into effect in 2011 after the Texas Supreme Court said the tax could be levied.

“It may be overshadowed by other big conservative issues like school vouchers, education funding, Medicaid,” Allan Saxe said. Saxe is an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. “However, it has been announced by some Republican leaders that this session will be very conservative, so this may be one ‘side’ issue that they may be willing to bring up and consider.”

Mark P. Jones, a political science professor from Rice University, said that the human trafficking side of the bill might gain support. Zedler said he filed the bill in response to a discussion he had with a woman at church. The woman told Zedler of her daughter working as a waitress at a sexually oriented business and then moved into stripping, drugs and prostitution.

To be approved for a license, the applicant will need to meet a set of requirements. Those requirements include being no younger than 18 and completing the human trafficking course. Applicants who have been convicted of crimes involving obscenity, prostitution, sexual assault or public lewdness would be eligible for a license in the state.

Businesses exempt from the bill include massage therapists, chiropractors and non-sexual nudist camps. Educational courses at junior colleges or art schools that use just one nude model would also be exempt. The majority of the details for the license would be determined by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The law states that those approved have to wear the license on their person while working.

“They could wear it around the neck … or on their shoes … or attached to a head band,” Zedler suggested.

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