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OWNER OF ADULT STORES CHALLENGES BILLBOARD LAW

A man who owns a string of adult novelty stores is suing Missouri, contending its law banning sexy highway billboards is unconstitutional.

The law, adopted last year, applies to billboards promoting businesses that involve naked workers or use more than 10 percent of the premises to display sexually oriented material. The law requires such signs to be at least one mile away from a state highway.

Attorneys for John Haltom, who wants to post billboards featuring lingerie-clad women to promote his two Missouri stores, said Haltom's stores are "not the kind of business" to which the law can apply.

They also argued the law's 10 percent figure for adult items is too low. Haltom said adult items take up about 25 percent of the display space in his stores.

"Their basic plan is to eliminate our advertising and put us out of business," he said.

Haltom said he once had seven billboards but is down to two. Signs in place when the ban took effect are allowed to remain until mid-2007.

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