Hard-Core Supporters

When Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D-Wis.) introduced a bill last spring to amend tax laws governing independent contractors, he picked up support from the usual suspects -- folks like the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association and a New York musicians union.

But then Michael Ross, a flamboyant Sacramento, Calif., lobbyist who represents workers in the $12 billion adult entertainment business -- including porn stars, strippers and others -- heard about the Independent Contractor Clarification Act of 1999. Ross liked what he saw.

"It's a good bill because it clarifies the law and provides uniformity," Ross said. "Most people in the entertainment business -- whether it's Tom Petty or Tom Cruise or a dancer on the corner -- will be effected by this legislation because they are independent

contractors."

Ross represents about 25,000 members of the National Cabaret Association and of the Adult Entertainment Industry Education Fund. Though his clients have not officially endorsed the legislation, Ross is closely monitoring the measure, having visited Kleczka's staff in June to discuss it.

So far, the bill is stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee, unable as yet to garner sufficient support and facing tough opposition from employers, especially small businesses.

Most lawmakers would accept help even from Attila the Hun if that would get their bill through. Kleczka, however, is not enthused by support from working girls -- and boys.

"When I drafted the bill, it was directed at hard-working Americans, not hard-core porn stars," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently.

Relax! Now!

"Are you feeling stress from your job, home life, or personal

finances?" asks a recent e-mail from the Department of Education's Work/Life Programs Group.

"Take advantage of a new, confidential service offered to all Department of Education headquarters employees," the e-mail says. It's called the "Stress Reduction Lab," and there's still time to sign up for an orientation session on October 20 or November 4 in Room 1250 of the Switzer Building.

"The Stress Reduction Lab is an interactive service designed to help employees manage stress and improve stamina and performance. The Lab is a quiet room with an ergonomic `Stressless' reclining chair, and audio and video equipment. You may select from written materials, audio tapes or video tapes in order to learn about stress and related topics, and to practice strategies for relaxation."

Makes you calmer just thinking about this, no? But the e-mail, apparently inadvertently, reverts to federal government form at the finale: "Hurry!! Space is limited."

High Tea

On the subject of calm, stress-free living, is there someone in your family using improper means of getting to that envied state? The Education Department Work/Life Programs folks have yet another seminar for you, according to an e-mail sent the day after the one above.

"Is Grandma Spiking Her Tea? Learn How to Recognize, Manage and Treat SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND THE ELDERLY," the missive says, inviting headquarters employees to a brown-bag luncheon seminar.

"Substance abuse is an all-too-common problem among the elderly population," the e-mail says. "It is a problem that is often undetected or ignored. Our speaker [Daniel Z. Lieberman], a psychiatrist who specializes in problems of the elderly, will discuss: How to recognize substance abuse in your elderly loved one; How to manage an elder with a substance abuse problem; How to find appropriate help and treatment." Might work for younger people, too.

Mouseketeers On Parade

The Library of Congress is having Parade magazine editor Walter Anderson "conduct a series of interviews with influential world leaders" this month. And who might these "world leaders" be? U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan may be a stuffy bureaucrat, but, by virtue of his position, he qualifies. And the other two? Actor Christopher Reeve and Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, which shows there's no hiding from the mighty mouse.

Tips and comments for Al Kamen's column are welcomed at: In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or by e-mail at Loop@washpost.com. Please include home and work phone numbers.