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Erik Burgess, Published January 28 2013

Adult entertainment licensing plan moves forward in Moorhead

MOORHEAD – The City Council here could use proceeds of a citywide adult entertainer registration fee to fund programs to educate youth about the dangers of the industry.

The council voted 7-0 on Monday to approve the first draft of a new city ordinance that would require strippers, escorts and exotic dancers to pay a fee and register with local police, go through a background check and carry a photo identification card. Councilman Luther Stueland was absent. Police Chief David Ebinger proposed the ordinance and said it will help curb prostitution and child trafficking through the metro area, much of which is coming from the Twin Cities.

But council members wanted to add more proactive measures to the ordinance, including using the registration funds to keep children out of the industry in the first place.

“I think we owe it to these individuals and to our kids to take it a little bit further and to take more action on this matter,” Councilwoman Heidi Durand said.

Entertainers would be required to register their real name, any stage names, a home address and telephone number. Ebinger said this will help police pursue any illegal activity, a task made difficult by the rampant use of stage names in the industry. The city could deny an applicant if he or she has been convicted of a crime involving violence, drugs or prostitution in the past 10 years.

“We have the right to regulate that legal activity,” Ebinger said. “If we fail to do that, you don’t know what the product is the people are being sold.”

In a previous meeting, Stueland vetted some concerns that by passing such an ordinance, the council would be putting its stamp of approval on an industry that, while legal, he found “morally offensive.” But several of his peers belayed that concern on Monday.

Before it can be made into law, the ordinance requires a second reading by the council, to be done at their next meeting. The fee will be set at a later date.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518

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