Strip club debate divides local leaders - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Strip club debate divides local leaders

A debate on how strip clubs should be run is dividing Memphis and Shelby County leaders.

Studies show people think anything goes in Memphis strip clubs, so the Shelby County Commission recently adopted tougher rules.

"I wanted to pass a law that was the strictest of its kind on adult entertainment in Memphis," said Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker.

But that's not sitting well with some Memphis City Council members, because all the strip clubs are in Memphis, not in county districts.

"The County Commission should have left it up to the council for the final approval," said Memphis City Council member Myron Lowery. "I don't want to appear that we're in conflict at all, because we have the same goals."

The County Commission voted dancers should cover their nipples.

City Council member, meanwhile, voted unanimously in a first reading of an ordinance for strip clubs to stay topless.

The City Council passed its first reading of an ordinance to allow beer.  The County Commission voted for no beer, adopting state laws to the letter.

Strip club owners say they'll leave if the county's rules stay intact.  If so, Memphis would lose about $2 million per year in sales taxes lost from beer sales.

"Our current laws have shown that we can shut down these sexually oriented businesses," Lowery said. "And we've done this when they violate the law in terms of illegal drugs and prostitution.  Beer is not illegal."

"If we adopted the state law, there's no way we could modify the state law or it would void our ability to get the attorney general involved if someone violated it," Bunker said.

In the end, Memphis has the final authority over its city own limits.

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