Proposal would make it illegal to tip strippers in Galveston

Proposed city ordinance would create stricter rules for sexually oriented businesses
November 21, 2013 3:41:12 PM PST
A serious crack down on sexually oriented businesses in Galveston could be on the way. City leaders are even considering a ban against tipping strippers, which could mean fines or even jail time for violators.

The ordinance is just a proposal. There was no vote by the city council. If eventually approved, though, the ordinance would drastically change the way some businesses do business.

The 50-plus page ordinance presented to the city council proposes tough restrictions on sexually oriented businesses.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Beeton said, "I believe the council should adopt the strongest ordinance allowed by law."

R.J. Purdue owns Wisper's Cabaret, a strip club, which, according to police, is the only sexually oriented business inside the city.

"By what's written in the law, it would put this business out of business," he said.

Purdue is referring specifically to wording that would make it illegal for customers to tip nude or semi-nude dancers, punishable by up to a $4,000 fine and a year in jail. The ordinance also addresses motels that rent rooms for less than a full night.

Beeton says she asked for the ordinance to help cut down on crime.

"We have complaints by the residents who live near them," she said. "The police have tried to respond, but to some extent, their hands are tied."

Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto, though, says the city's one sexually oriented business isn't a major source of crime.

"To my knowledge, and according to official reports, the last two and a half or three years, we have no major calls for service or continued complaints," Chief Porretto said.

But Beeton says the ordinance, which is based on similar ordinances upheld in court, is geared as much to prevent future crime as it is current problems.

A legal expert believes the ordinance, as it is written, would hold up in court if challenged. Right now, there is no scheduled vote by the council on this ordinance.

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