Efforts to tighten controls on strip bars look ready to sail through the Ohio House, the Ohio Senate already having enacted similar measures, and Gov. Ted Strickland is likely to sign the measure into law.
The law will forbid touching of dancers and force strip clubs and adult bookstores to close at midnight, although strip clubs that have bars will be permitted to stay open to continue serving liquor with no dancing permitted.
So be it.
Strip club controls do not seem the highest priority for a state that:
1) is losing its manufacturing base;
2) has a Medicaid-rendered financial crisis;
3) has avoided for more than a decade addressing an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that its funding of public education is unconstitutional, so some school districts continue to be flush with cash while others can barely afford to keep their doors open;
4) is struggling to address the higher education needs of its people;
5) has land use and tax avoidance policies that are destroying cities and plundering the countryside;
6) cannot come up with a coherent policy that makes sense on long-term health care for the elderly;
7) has no competitive economic development strategy or one that, for that matter, is adequately funded;
8) has an inadequate approach to energy regulation;
9) fails to take full advantage of its abundant water resources, which need protection, but carry the promise of healthy outdoor recreation;
10) does too little to encourage the long-term, reputable employers it does still have to remain in Ohio;
11) fails to address other issues we could add to this list.
That being said, the regulation of sin is certainly a worthy distraction.
It feels so virtuous too, although it can result in unintended consequences.
For example, in the case of strip bars, if the consumer cannot get his fill by midnight, illegal venues will likely arise to fill a demand.
They will keep our law enforcement agencies, most of which claim they are understaffed, busy trying to shut them down.
Ohio has inconsistencies when it comes to regulating sin, too.
Sometimes the state says it is OK to have just a little sin to raise money. Alcohol and tobacco, for example, are taxed to the hilt to create revenue streams for the state. Marijuana is forbidden.
Horse racing is considered a state monopoly for the purposes of raising money and meeting a demand by consumers, some of whom over the years have been our worthy legislators.
Casino gambling, by contrast, has been so unacceptable to Ohioans, who keep voting it down, that they are willing to let our neighbors in Michigan and West Virginia, who permit limited casino gambling, and soon in Pennsylvania, take our hard-earned cash instead.
Gay marriage was outlawed constitutionally in a 2004 vote. Difficult to police, it survives in the form of quiet cohabitation as it has for ages.
When it comes to strip bars, Ohio, rather than impose special taxes to raise money, has leaned toward regulation.
As a result, our Ohio legislators and leaders, weighing freedom of expression against the horrors of Sodom and Gomorra, appear ready to produce another peculiar Buckeye compromise.
Good for them.
Now that our leaders and legislators in Columbus have solved that problem, one wonders what they will address next.