ED Publications

ED November 2016

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Page 17 of 75

18 November 2016 Club Bulletin www.EDpublications.com N early every imaginable industry has a lobbying group representing itself, and the adult nightclub industry is no exception. Religious activists and ambitious politicians regularly try to legislate adult clubs out of business or at least out of profitability. In 1999, in response to devastating state legislation, this writer started ACE of Michigan, that state's adult nightclub association and earlier the same year, worked with EXPO producer and ED Club Bulletin publisher Don Waitt to start ACE National, the adult nightclub industry's national association. 23 state club associations of various incarnations are currently in existence. Clearly, it's much safer for a state's adult clubs to proactively form a state association than to wait until they're facing pending legislation. The Team State seminar focused on the how-tos of forming and running a state club association, what an association is and how an association can help its members. The seminar participants were Jeff Levy, who heads state associations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York; Jim St. John, ACE National President, Spearmint Rhino vice president and a founding board member of ACE of Michigan; noted First Amendment attorney Luke Lirot, Jill Chambers, Executive Director of Georgia's new association and Larry Kaplan, ACE of Michigan founder and executive director, ACE National's first executive director and ED Club Bulletin's Legal Correspondent. Jeff Levy "It's not a question of whether bad legislation will happen, but when," cautioned Jeff Levy. "Without an association, you're going to lose." Levy explained that in 10 years, 32 industry-threating bills have been introduced in his three states and they've defeated all 32. Levy explained that you must discover bad legislation when it's introduced to maximize your odds. Through bill tracking software, Levy and other state associations get a head's-up on the introduction of detrimental bills. Levy noted that many legislation authors are opposed to adult nightclubs and won't meet with us. Levy suggested contacting the chairman of the legislative committee introducing the bill who may be more receptive. Levy stressed the importance of working with a knowledgeable First Amendment attorney to frame your issues, combined with utilizing relevant scholarly studies, which document that adult nightclubs don't promote sex trafficking or cause other problems. The Pennsylvania association commissioned a published, peer-reviewed Duke University study, which documents the lack of a strong relationship between adult clubs and sex trafficking and has been graciously made available to other associations. Levy explained that it's important to develop strong relationships with elected officials and with political reporters. Jill Chambers Jill Chambers, who gained a perspective on state politics as a former small business owner and elected state legislator talked about the tools she utilized in forming the new Georgia association. Georgia's legislature passed a bill two years ago which puts a constitutional amendment enabling an annual pole tax on alcohol clubs on this November's ballot. Three months after the tax was put on the ballot, an Atlanta adult club hired Chambers to lobby against city 2016 Convention Seminar Coverage by Larry Kaplan The Team State Seminar Heads of statewide organizing and lobbying chapters, as well as ACE National, came together at EXPO 2016 to offer advice on how to start a statewide chapter if one doesn't currently exist, how to improve your statewide chapter and explain exactly why it is so crucial to have a chapter in place. "You industry people are the problem, because you only come to the table when there's a crisis and we're already behind the eight ball." - St. John

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