COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A group representing strip club owners and dancers said Monday it collected enough signatures to give voters a chance to overturn a law that prohibits patrons from touching strippers and halts nude dancing after midnight.
Citizens for Community Standards said it collected 248,673 signatures in its attempt to overturn the law, which is set to take effect Sept 4. The group needs at least 241,366 valid signatures from registered voters - a number that equals 6 percent of the total vote cast in the 2006 governor's race - to place the issue on the November ballot.
The group will continue to gather more signatures to ensure the number is still high enough after the Ohio secretary of state's office completes the verification process, said Sandy Theis, a spokeswoman for club owners and dancers.
Strip club owners argue the restrictions are an unconstitutional infringement on free speech and expression.
If the signatures are verified, the law would not go into effect, pending the outcome of the November vote, said Leo Jennings, a spokesman for Attorney General Marc Dann.
The new restrictions on strip clubs were passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in May and allowed to become law by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland without his signature.
Citizens for Community Values, a Cincinnati-based conservative group that pushed for the new law, argues that the restrictions will reduce crimes such as prostitution and illegal drug use and decrease blight in neighborhoods where strip clubs operate.
David Miller, a vice president with the conservative organization, said he doubts whether the group representing strip clubs has collected enough valid signatures. If the issue qualifies for the ballot, Miller said he is confident that Ohio voters will support the new regulations.