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Legislators give second-round approval to regulating ‘bottle clubs’

A bill designed to help curb the evils of sex trafficking is poised for final approval in the Nebraska Legislature as senators wrap up their 2018 session.

LB1120, expanded last week to restore state licensing and regulation of bring-your-own-drink “bottle clubs,” won second-round approval on a voice vote April 9 after senators amended the bill to ensure their intent would be carried out.

State Sen. Theresa Thibodeau, a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha, offered the amendment as a follow-up to her successful April 3 bid to rewrite LB1120, during which she cited evidence that some bottle clubs were operating as strip clubs featuring female victims of sex trafficking. Her initial amendment last week partly restored legal language that governed “bottle club licenses” from 1965 to 2004, when the Legislature inadvertently repealed the mandate. Senators voted 34-0 April 9 for Thibodeau’s amendment to finish the job.

The Nebraska Catholic Conference has called for renewed regulation of bottle clubs, the goal of a previous bill by Thibodeau (LB747) that failed to reach the floor.

Senators were expected to take a final vote on LB1120 April 18, the final day of the 60-day session.

 

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