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Politics

Springfield City Council Decides to Return to Original Indecent Exposure Law

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City of Springfield
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Springfield City Council has restored its former indecent exposure ordinance and added new language.  Council voted five to one Monday with three members absent and Kristi Fulnecky the only member in opposition.

Councilman Justin Burnett sponsored the original bill to revise the city’s indecent exposure ordinance after Free the Nipple Rallies on Park Central Square. The ACLU sued the city over the revisions.

Fulnecky told fellow members last night they should fight the ACLU rather than change the bill.

"Courts have consistently upheld local governments being able to regulate decency and peace, and I think that's an extension of this.  There's no First Amendment protection in nudity," she said.

Mayor Bob Stephens said he anticipated the lawsuit proceeding if they hadn’t repealed the law.

Burnett decided to vote to return to the original law after hearing from constituents.  And he said when no one spoke at a public hearing on the latest measure, his decision was solidified.

"I think that is a sign of where the community is, and there's a desire for us to move on with all the issues that we're facing, and I know that with the sense of community that we have in Springfield that is possible," he said.

Language that was added includes a section that “shall not prohibit a mother from breast-feeding her child or expressing breast milk in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be.”  There’s also language stating “this section shall not regulate nudity when the conduct of being nude cannot constitutionally be prohibited…because it is otherwise protected by the United States Constitution or Missouri Constitution.”

Language that was restored defines indecent exposure or conduct as "the exposure of the male or female genitals, pubic area, or the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part 0f the areola and nipple, or the showing of the covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state."