A bill to remove prohibitions on what types of sexually frank films may be shown in venues that serve alcohol will get a full hearing in the Idaho House.
The legislation, introduced Friday, addresses theaters such as Boise’s The Flicks and Village Cinema in Meridian, which was most recently threatened with losing its ability to serve alcohol after the 2015 run of “50 Shades of Grey.”
Idaho State Police, who enforce state liquor laws, filed in December to stop the theater from serving alcohol. In response, the theater sued in federal court in Boise last month on First Amendment grounds.
The proposed change would cut a section of Idaho liquor law that bars showing films that depict certain sex acts where alcohol is served. Instead, it would address films that violate state laws on indecency and obscenity or federal pornography laws.
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“At this point in time, I believe that our laws do not match up with the Constitution,” sponsor Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, told the House State Affairs committee. He said the change would strengthen state laws. Under current statute, state police “can enforce the law, but if they enforce the law we’re going to end up in court.”
Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City, asked: “So this then would provide greater First Amendment protections for theaters such as the Village and The Flicks?”
“Absolutely,” Palmer replied.
The committee voted unanimously to refer the bill for a full hearing.