by Marc KovacCapital Bureau ChiefColumbus -- The Ohio House of Representatives OK'd legislation limiting activities at sexually oriented businesses, though with fewer restrictions than an earlier-approved Senate version and added support for communities instituting local rules. The final vote on Substitute Senate Bill 16 was 73-24; all in opposition were Democrats, though others joined Republican ranks in supporting the legislation. The bill now heads back to the Senate for concurrence. Senate President Bill Harris (R-Ashland) said he expected his chamber to concur on the substitute bill. But he said Democratic members wanted time to review the changes, so a final decision probably wouldn't come immediately. The May 16 House session included close to an hour of debate on the bill, which was brought before lawmakers by initiative by the Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values. The group collected 220,000-plus signatures and is poised to collect additional names if the state doesn't act to its liking, a move that would place the issue before voters. Sub. SB 16 would prohibit sexually oriented businesses not holding valid liquor licenses from operating between midnight and 6 a.m. Those with liquor licenses could stay open provided they cease from offering sexually oriented entertainment involving nude performers. The bill also would institute a statewide ban on physical contact between club employees who are nude or semi-nude with patrons. Violators would face first-degree misdemeanor charges for touching specified anatomical areas and fourth-degree misdemeanors for touching other parts, said Rep. Louis W. Blessing Jr. (R-Cincinnati), who is chairman of the House committee that considered the bill. The substitute bill did not include a 6-foot buffer zone between strippers and customers or others on the premises. But it did include provisions that the state cover any liabilities incurred by townships dealing with lawsuits over stricter local ordinances. Business affected would include adult bookstores, adult video stores, adult cabarets, adult motion picture theater, sexual device shop or a sexual encounter center, according to an analysis of the bill compiled by the state's Legislative Service Commission. Rep. Michael Skindell, from Lakewood, sought to indefinitely postpone a final vote on the legislation, but the motion failed. He said he was embarrassed that the Legislature was taking time to consider the bill, which he said would hurt communities, like his hometown, that already have adopted stricter regulations against adult-oriented businesses. "Here in Ohio, we have a strong history of homerule principles that grant powers to local governments to manage their own affairs," he said. "And I believe that Senate Bill 16 will restrict the right of local officials to decide what is proper in the local communities." But Republicans countered that the legislation being considered was changed substantially from the version OK'd by the Senate and was comparable to legislation that was overwhelmingly approved in the House (but removed in the Senate) two years ago. "I do not understand what has changed in two years," said Majority Whip Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), adding that a failure to act accordingly could place a "poorly written citizen initiative" on the ballot. "Be careful what you wish for. If you want them to take this to the ballot ... you will have the same mess on your hands that we have gotten with the citizens' smoking initiative." Strippers, many wearing pink "Dancers for Democracy" T-shirts, lined one section of the public seating area of the House chambers during the May 16 session. Introduced as guests of Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown), they stood and unfurled a large banner reading, "Talk is Cheap, Speech is Priceless." Prior to the session, they also distributed pink-colored, hand-written letters asking lawmakers to oppose the bill. Marc Kovac is the Dix Newspapers Capital Bureau chief. E-mail him at