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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Exposure law proposal focused on Spokane baristas falls short on signatures

From Staff Reports

Bikini baristas will remain in Spokane.

The Spokane County Elections Office ruled as invalid nearly half of the signatures collected to place an initiative on the November ballot asking voters to create a misdemeanor public exposure law.

Of the 3,320 signatures turned in to the city – which sent the signatures to the county for validation – 1,548 were ruled invalid, about 46 percent of what was needed. To be placed on the ballot, 2,477 signatures had to be valid, but only 1,772 reached that mark.

About a third of the invalid signatures came from people who live outside the city limits. Another third came from people who weren’t registered to vote. The remaining null signatures were tossed because some signed the petition more than once, their identity couldn’t be verified or the signatures didn’t match what the county had on file.

Three Spokane women led the effort to collect signatures. Their proposal was sparked by the proliferation of coffee stands with female baristas working nearly naked – clad in only G-strings and pasties. In 2013, the Spokane City Council rejected an attempt by Councilman Mike Fagan to define what body parts must be covered, adding words such as “anal cleft” and “areola” into city code.

The Spokane Valley City Council approved the stricter nudity rules later that year.

The county’s ruling effectively prevents the petitioners from having a measure on any 2015 ballot.