2 adult entertainment bills could influence change in lewd laws governing state bars

Feb 7, 2024, 5:37 AM

Image: A former exotic dancer who worked in Pierce County would like to see women in the industry p...

A former exotic dancer who worked in Pierce County would like to see women in the industry provided more training and resources. (Photo: Armando Franca, AP)

(Photo: Armando Franca, AP)

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s (LCB) suspension of the lewd laws related to bars may help move forward two adult entertainment bills state lawmakers are now considering.

There was discussion during an LCB meeting Tuesday of a rollback of the rules governing lewd conduct until the LCB can rewrite the rules.

It was revealed during the meeting that the final adoption of any rewrite of the rule would happen no sooner than July 6.

In the meantime, establishments with liquor licenses are operating without a lewd law in place.

LCB agents along with members of Seattle’s Joint Enforcement Team responded to complaints of lewd conduct, overserving, and serving to minors at 18 establishments with liquor licenses late last month in Seattle.

Four LGBTQ+ bars were entered along with several sports venues, hookah lounges, and food vendors.

Previous coverage: Officers deny LGBTQ+ bar visits were raids, officials seek to change lewd laws

The lewd law outlines what type of scantily clad outfits cannot be worn and what type of contact is not allowed between people inside a place where alcohol is served, including patrons and employees.

Following complaints by the LGBTQ+ community, the LCB temporarily suspended the lewd laws governing bars.

Legislation in Olympia

For two years, there has been a push in the adult entertainment industry to enact legislation that would allow alcohol to be served at strip clubs.

SB 6105 requires the LCB to adopt rules to allow adult entertainment establishments to hold liquor licenses. (A PDF of the substitute bill can be viewed here.)

The democratically supported bill is expected to be heard on the Senate floor soon. There could be an amendment to suspend the current lewd laws associated with liquor licenses, which could speed up the rule-making process with the LCB.

HB 2036 has some similar safety conditions for performers that are included in SB 6105 but doesn’t have the liquor component. It has passed its committee and is now in the rules committee. It will be up to the Democratic leadership in the House to bring it to the floor. (A PDF of the substitute bill can be viewed here.)

Lewd law language goes back to 1975

“We’ve had a wonderful, very positive, and supportive response from our LGBTQ+ community partners,” Chandra Brady, LCB’s director of enforcement and education, said.

Tuesday’s meeting of the LCB is the first of many to address a possible change to the lewd law. No new language for a revised rule was presented.

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Dan Jacobs, staff to the LCB, said the agency has received six petitions for rulemaking that requested the repeal of the lewd conduct rule.

He said the petitions used pretty much identical language, and they all asked for the same thing, which is the immediate halt of enforcement of the lewd conduct rule and repeal of the rule.

The LCB now has 60 days to respond to the petitions.

Jacobs said the core language of the lewd law goes back to 1975 and it hasn’t been changed since then.

“That’s when we put in rules about lewd conduct, and a lot of the language is about which body parts can and can’t be shown,

“Some of the terms for acts that are forbidden have biblical references,” Jacobs added. “A lot of the wording that is the most patently offensive comes from 1975 and hasn’t been changed since that time.”

Board member Jim Vollendroff, who said he is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, called for an update of many of the laws governing liquor licenses.

The board will meet again on Feb. 14 to further discuss the issue. By then, there could be movement on HB 2036 and SB 6105.

Matt Markovich often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Matt’s stories here. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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2 adult entertainment bills could influence change in lewd laws governing state bars