More bills go into legislative hopper

Posted: Monday, January 12, 2004

Young strip dancers and the clubs they work in would face more restrictions under legislation being sponsored by lawmakers from both parties.

The bill is among several dozen measures that are in line to be introduced when the legislative session starts today.

Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Lesil McGuire, an Anchorage Republican, said several parent-teacher associations are backing the measure.

"The PTAs made a real convincing case that young people are being victimized at these clubs," Gara said.

House Bill 367 would require dancers and the businesses they work in to obtain state licenses. The dancers would have to be provided education on self-defense and state wage and hours laws. If they are under 21, they'd also have to be given information about alternative career options and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The bill would prevent young women from dancing in strip clubs before they turn 19.

"We're hoping we can at least give them a chance to get through high school first," McGuire said.

There are at least two nonalcoholic strip clubs operating in Anchorage that are open to workers and patrons age 18 and over.

Bills also were pre-filed Friday calling for voters to choose between a sales tax and an income tax, and for the tourism industry to vote on whether to tax itself.

Senate Bill 254 would let the tourism industry vote on imposing a tax on tourism-related goods and services. The money collected would be spent marketing Alaska to tourists.

Senate President Gene Therriault, a North Pole Republican, is sponsoring the bill at the request of the Alaska Travel Industry Association. It's modeled after the state law that allows the fishing industry to tax itself to fund the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Another tax-related measure released Friday is House Bill 372, which Gara is sponsoring. It calls for a statewide advisory vote on a sales tax versus an income tax.

If legislators passed either of those taxes this year, the measure would prevent the taxes from taking effect until after voters had their say.

And Rep. Bill Stoltze, a Chugiak Republican, is sponsoring a bill to make it legal to gamble on so-called rat races in Alaska.

The issue came up after a review of state gambling regulations found that a game of chance the Palmer Elks Lodge had run for years at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer was not legal.

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