CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A bill to ban adult-oriented stores in West Virginia was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday.
The text of House Bill 2919, or the “Sexually Oriented Businesses Regulation Act,” says the bill would ban stores that primarily sell pornographic material or “instruments, devices or paraphernalia.” It is also looking to ban “adult cabaret,” or clubs, nightclubs, restaurants or other businesses that show performers nude or seminude, and adult arcade businesses.
The bill says they are looking to ban these businesses because “statistics” show that more crime happens in places where adult-oriented stores are located. It says these stores “encourage” prostitution, increase sexual assaults and bring other criminal activity to the area. There is no information in the bill about where the crime statistics came from.
The bill says the charges would be a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $1,000. It says a fourth violation within a 60-day period is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $10,000, one year in jail or both.
Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for the West Virginia Legislature Ann Ali says Del. Geno Chiarelli (R-Monongalia), the bill’s lead sponsor, will not be issuing a statement on this bill.
Ali says, “This is one of 1,006 bills that have been introduced in the House of Delegates as of today, and even though each bill matters greatly to someone, not every bill completes the legislative process to become law.”
A spokesperson for the ACLU of West Virginia says HB 2919 is a form of censorship and they are, “opposed to its passage.” They say, “it does not appear to be advancing at the moment, and we are cautiously optimistic it will stay that way.”
The bill’s lead sponsor is Del. Geno Chiarelli (R-Monongalia) and is sponsored by Del. Henry Dillon (R-Wayne), Del. Riley Keaton (R-Roane), Del. Jonathan Pinson (R-Mason), Del. Dean Jeffries (R-Kanawha) and Del. Walter Hall (R-Kanawha).