(Chuck Muth) – In 1971 the Nevada Legislature passed legislation allowing the operation of legal brothels in any county other than those with populations over 700,000 – which means, Clark County.
On March 13, 2019 Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen (D-Clark) introduced an Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR6) calling for the creation of “an interim committee to study the working conditions at licensed brothels.”
ACR6 specifically stipulates that the Nevada Legislature “has an inherent interest in the health, safety and general welfare of all workers in the State, including sex workers in licensed brothels.”
At a committee hearing on ACR6 conducted in Carson City on March 28, 2019, the Nevada Brothel Association voiced general support for the study but called for amendments to the bill to expand the examination to ALL commercial sex workers, not just those in the licensed brothels.
Indeed, if the Legislature has an inherent interest in the health, safety and general welfare of ALL workers in the State – particularly as it relates to protecting the public from communicable diseases – that should, by definition, include commercial sex work in both licensed brothels AND the currently-unlawful and unregulated sex market, especially in Clark County.
With this in mind, I suggest that ACR6 be amended along the following lines…
WHEREAS, the Nevada Legislature has not undertaken a comprehensive study of the commercial sex industry in the 48 years since legal brothels were authorized in 1971, and
WHEREAS, there has never been a single case of AIDS/HIV or other sexually transmitted disease traced back to a Nevada legal brothel thanks to required health exams and mandatory condom use, which is not the case in the current unlawful and unregulated commercial sex market, and
WHEREAS, commercial sex workers in Nevada’s legal brothels are subjected to an FBI background check, fingerprinting and the issuance of a work card from the local sheriff’s office, which is not the case in the current unlawful and unregulated commercial sex market, and
WHEREAS, legal brothel operations are subject to inspection by law enforcement officials and government regulators at any time for any reason and without notice, which is not the case in the current unlawful and unregulated commercial sex market, and
WHEREAS, due to the illegality of commercial sex work in most Nevada counties, commercial sex workers there have no recourse in seeking aid from law enforcement when physically abused and/or forced into the business against their will, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that a special study commission be created by the Nevada Legislature consisting of thirteen (13) members, including…
- Two (2) members of the State Assembly and two (2) members of the State Senate, one of each who must represent counties in which licensed brothels are operating at the time of passage.
- The Director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, and the Nevada Attorney General, or their designees.
- Two (2) individuals who have engaged in commercial sex work; one representing commercial sex workers in licensed brothels and one representing commercial sex workers in the presently-illegal market.
- One (1) representative of organizations focused on improving public health and supporting survivors of violence and sexual assault.
- One (1) representative of Nevada’s currently-operating licensed brothels.
- One (1) researcher of Nevada’s commercial sex industry from the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) and one (1) researcher of Nevada’s commercial sex industry from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and be it further
RESOLVED, that the study must include, without limitation, an examination of:
- The health, safety and general welfare of all individuals engaged in commercial sex work in Nevada;
- The impact of revising Nevada law as it relates to consensual commercial sex work in counties with populations greater than 700,000;
- Advertising restrictions currently in place on legal brothels.
The Nevada Legislature does, indeed, have an inherent interest in the health, safety and general welfare of all workers in the state, including ALL workers in the commercial sex industry.
The Legislature also has an inherent interest in the health, safety and general welfare of those adults consensually choosing to engage commercial sex services – including the millions of tourists who visit our state – to protect the public from communicable diseases.
Nevada’s licensed and highly-regulated brothels are a success story, and have been for 48 years. They protect the public’s health as well as the safety of those who work there.
As such, if Nevada taxpayers are to fund a study of Nevada’s legal brothels, the scope of said study should be expanded as outlined in the above-mentioned amendment to do the job correctly, fully and responsibly.
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a limited-government grassroots advocacy organization, and government affairs counsel to the Nevada Brothel Association