The perennial attempt to weaken the Oregon Constitution’s free expression provision (Article I, section 8) to allow local governments to restrict nude dancing once again was introduced this session with constitutional amendments in both the Senate (SJR 28) and the House (HJR 35).

SJR 28: Introduced by Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) and Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, SJR 28 would have, yet again, added an exception to Article I, section 8 to allow local jurisdictions to regulate the location of businesses and organizations that offer live entertainment or other services by nude persons. We write “yet again” because voters have rejected an almost identical provision in 2000 (Measure 87) as well as previous attempts in 1996 (Measure 31) and 1994 (Measure 19) to weaken our free expression provision related to sexual expression. Voters have made it clear that they do not want to weaken our Bill of Rights nor allow the government to decide what we can read, see and hear. Unfortunately, almost every legislative session, constitutional referrals of this nature are introduced by sympathetic legislators and too often are given serious consideration.

Joining the ACLU of Oregon in opposition to SJR 28 were recreation nudists, who would be affected if the amendment passed because they run organizations that includes individuals who work at their facilities in the nude. This is a reminder that while the focus of the proponents of SJR 28 may have been one thing (adult businesses), writing a constitutional amendment that targets one type of speech is very difficult, if not impossible, to do. SJR 28 received a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee and, fortunately, died in Committee.

WIN: DIED IN COMMITTEE

HJR 35 was a similar concept to SJR 28 and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. That Committee decided not to hear HJR 35 and it died in committee.

WIN: DIED IN COMMITTEE