It was a bill that stirred some controversy before and after being signed into law last year. Now, as the legal fight over the legislation continues, Sen.Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles) has authored another bill to set the minimum age of strippers at 21 years old.
"I've seen the consequences of human trafficking," said Johns, "It's human slavery is what it is, and we have to put an end to it."
His original bill proposed in the 2016 legislative session, set the age requirement for performers at strip clubs at 21. The bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Then, three women working in the industry filed a lawsuit challenging the age requirement.
"There was a lawsuit filed by three young ladies from the New Orleans and Baton Rouge area," said Johns.
Federal Judge Carl Barbier blocked the law, calling it unconstitutional as written. Some of his concerns include some vague language about nudity in the law, as well as the law potentially violating the First Amendment. He has said the effects of this age requirement could pose restrictions for those under 21 performing in theater productions or other artistic outlets involving partial nudity.
Sen. Johns said the proposed, newly rewritten bill addresses those concerns and aims to create stricter human trafficking laws in Louisiana.
"These young girls who have been exploited are being run through and used in the strip club industry," said Johns, "We have one goal in mind, and that's to save some young ladies lives. If it only saves one life, then it's absolutely all worth my efforts."
The lawsuit challenging the current law has not yet gone to trial.
Sen. Johns said if this version passes and is signed by into law, the current law would be null and void. He said the bill should go on the legislative schedule in about two weeks. He's confident the bill will pass.
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