By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Mississippi counties can pass rules to restrict new strip-club operations July 1 under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Haley Barbour.
“I’m tickled to death that he signed it,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gary Chism of Columbus.
House Bill 170 gives county boards of supervisors the authority to develop regulations for local strip clubs.
Before the bill’s passage, counties other than on the Gulf Coast and in Jackson had to institute countywide zoning before they could place restrictions on the sexually oriented businesses.
Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the governor agreed with the intent of the legislation, saying it put control back in the hands of local governments.
“It will keep this type of business from invading our counties,” Chism said.
“More important, other counties can put this in place before another one of these businesses creeps into their neighborhoods,” he added.
Chism’s bill had little momentum when the legislative session began. But support picked up after some high school football recruits claimed they were entertained at The Pony on Highway 45-A in Lowndes County during a Mississippi State University visit a few months ago.
The Pony also gained additional notoriety with its large roadside sign – a stylized but nearly anatomically accurate rearing silver stallion, which generated public outcry locally and to officials like Chism.
The few existing sexually oriented businesses in the state will not be affected by the new law, but Chism said it’s possible their home counties could make small changes, especially to ban entry by anyone under age 21.
Contact Patsy Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.