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Inslee signs bill allowing liquor at adult entertainment venues

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a Washington bill that allows adult entertainment venues the ability to serve alcohol to customers.

Senate Bill 6105, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, also mandates training for workers at the venue regarding sexual harassment and potential human trafficking.

“Strippers are workers, and they should be given the same rights and protections as any other labor force,” Saldaña said in a press release statement. “If they are employed at a legal establishment in Washington, they deserve the safeguards that every worker is entitled to, including protection from exploitation, trafficking, and abuse.”

The bill cleared the Senate on Feb. 7 in a 29-20 vote, then in the House on Feb. 27 in a 58-36 vote. At the bill’s March 25 signing, Inslee said the legislation “prevents worker exploitation.”

“It’s pretty simple why we’re passing this bill,” he said. “These are working folks, and working people deserve safety in the environment in which they work.”

Among the bill’s other provisions is mandating panic buttons for rooms where a worker might be alone with a customer. If alcohol is served at the venue, no one under the age of 21 is allowed to work there or enter the premises. Any worker who is terminated or not rehired after applying for a job can request a written notice for the termination or refusal to rehire.

“We need to recognize workers’ rights to safeguard their well-being,” Saldaña said in her statement.

Earlier this year, several Seattle bars were accused of “lewd conduct” and running afoul of a Liquor and Cannabis Control Board rule that prohibited the serving of alcohol at venues with adult entertainment, prompting inspections by LCB and Seattle police officers. Ultimately, no arrests were made.

SB 6105 repeals the Washington Administrative Code that specifically prohibits liquor licenses for venues that have “lewd conduct,” which Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Wall Walla, told colleagues on the House floor is why he opposed the final bill.

“A person has more restrictions on their body in an establishment that is limited to people who are over 21 than they do right outside the door,” he said, adding that he preferred they “modernize” the WAC, rather than repeal it.