|St. Cloud Times, Minn.McClatchy-Tribune
March 22, 2010 --Backers of legislation known as the "clean hotel" bill probably are disappointed their proposal was rejected last week by the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections committee.
They shouldn't be.
Their efforts certainly are raising Minnesotans' awareness of ways to reduce access to pornography and its impact on shaping societal attitudes toward sexual violence.
That said, and stating unequivocally our intense dislike for porn, we don't see a need to turn this proposal into law.
In brief, when feasible, it bans state workers traveling for their jobs from booking in-state hotel rooms or meeting facilities that offer pay-per-view pornographic films, specifically those that link sex with violence.
The measure is authored by St. Cloud DFL legislators Sen. Tarryl Clark and Rep. Larry Haws in response to a request from the Mens Action Network based in Clearwater.
Our biggest question: Why is a state law needed?
Can't state government simply adopt employment policies that achieve the same goal?
Honestly, if a state law is needed to do this, what's next? A law banning state workers from eating at Hooters? Or should it also become illegal to tune state-owned radios to violent or sexually suggestive music?
Those examples may seem extreme, but so is the passage of a law.
On another note, if it's a policy, it likely would not require the same taxpayer resources to enforce as the law. For example, under the bill, a "clean hotels" list would be created by the Department of Administration.
That department first would help other agencies utilize it and then work with the Department of Health to report about it to the Legislature.
Sounds like a double-feature's worth of red tape.
Wouldn't it just be easier to adopt a workplace policy and have supervisors supervise?
We also agree with opponents who see this bill as yet another step toward government dictating what businesses can or cannot offer even though the product is legal. (Disgusting and violent, perhaps. But legal.)
And finally we definitely question the difference between these targeted pay-per-view movies and already (and more easily) available "premium" cable offerings such as "Cinemax After Dark," "Real Sex" and "Spartacus: Blood and Sand."
Please don't misunderstand. Supporters have an admirable goal, which is to institute a public health agenda that decreases the 61,000 Minnesotans who every year are the victims of sexual assault and violence.
We definitely back that idea; we just don't see how this proposal becoming a state law does a lot, if anything, to help achieve it.
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