DES MOINES, Iowa–Johnston city leaders thought they had solved their annoying issue with prostitution at massage parlors. But they learned it might not be that simple.
A year ago, the council passed an ordinance that required owners of a massage parlor to notify the city if they have been charged or convicted of a criminal offense. The hope was that it would keep away potential illegal activity at businesses posing as massage parlors. Mayor Paula Dierenfeld said she learned of a potential challenge to that ordinance, because a local jurisdiction may not have legal authority to pass the ordinance like her town did.
Late Tuesday night, the Iowa House of Representatives voted to change the statute, which would give local governments more authority to do what Johnston has done.
Dierenfeld believes that action could make her town a model for others to follow in getting rid of shady operations. “They are involved in human trafficking. That is a horrible offense,” Dierenfeld said, “We don’t want human trafficking with related activities…prostitution…in our communities.”