The Legislature's Judiciary Committee heard testimony Feb. 20 on Sen. Mark Christensen's bill that would require escort services to get an operating permit and be regulated.Violators who allow an escort agency employee to be in a state of nudity while in the presence of a patron and who knowingly provide services to minors would be guilty of a Class IIIA felony and fined $2,500 or more.
LB 314, introduced by Imperial Sen. Mark Christensen, would require counties, cities and villages to implement ordinances for escort services.
A Class III felony and a fine of $5,000 or more would be imposed for violators who:
• Operate or advertise as an escort agency without a permit.
• Employ individuals who are not permitted as escorts.
• Knowingly provide false information on the permit application or renewal form.
In addition, the bill would require escort agencies to provide each patron a written contract for services.
The contract would include the escort agency employee’s name, the name and address of patrons, services performed, the length of time of services, compensation rates, any special terms and a statement that prostitution is illegal in Nebraska.
Copies of contracts would be provided monthly to the local permit authority and also would be available for law enforcement review.
Christensen said many escort businesses are engaged in human trafficking.
“If we have to allow escort businesses to operate in Nebraska, we should make an effort to regulate the industry,” he said. “At the very least we need to put pressure on [escort services] not to cross the line into illegal activity.”
Al Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Council, testified in support of the bill, saying that most escort services engage in prostitution. One escort service website advertised 310 individuals who were located in Lincoln and 17 of them were minors, he said.
Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, also testified in support of the bill. He said LB314 would be an effective approach to combat human trafficking, which he said is a serious problem that exploits women and children and is an affront to human dignity.
No one testified in opposition and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.