ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - City councilors are going back to the drawing board on their proposed crackdown on strip clubs.
For months, councilors have been drafting rules to make sure nothing shady is happening inside these secret spots.
"There is a direct correlation between instances of human trafficking and the strip clubs," said Councilor Dan Lewis. "When it comes to regulating an industry, I think it's very light."
But under the proposed changes, the punishment for violating rules is not. According to the ordinance, if any sexual act happens inside club walls, the business could be shut down on the first offense. Councilors also wanted the city to have a database of all strippers, including a current picture and contact information. Clubs would also have to get rid of all closed off booths and VIP rooms. A no-touching policy was also proposed, which would have banned lap dances.
Another proposed change would have required owners to verify entertainers are not convicted of certain offenses, such as prostitution. Club representatives argued that is impossible because entertainers come from all over the country.
"If it had passed, it would have been fatal," said Colin Hunter, an attorney for TD's strip club.
Hunter said the establishments already have a "just-looking" rule, where customers can't touch dancers. But club representatives said VIP rooms and strippers giving lap dances are all part of the "cabaret" experience. Hunter said there is no proof the dirty dancing becomes criminal.
"It would have been completely unfair to overly regulate an industry for a non-existent problem," said Hunter.
Some councilors agreed, saying they're not sure how far the city should go.
Councilors removed the no-touching policy from their original bill, saying it could be too difficult to enforce. They indicated they could remove the part about the dancer database too because of privacy concerns.
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