Texas Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Tax Adult Entertainment

Michael Hayes
AUSTIN, Texas — Two state lawmakers have introduced separate pieces of legislation that would tax adult-oriented businesses in order to raise funds and awareness for victims of sex crimes.

A bill drafted by Rep. Ellen Cohen would add a $5 cover charge to all strip clubs throughout the state. If passed, Cohen’s bill would raise approximately $40 million in revenue per year for the state. However, the state Legislature would have the right to spend as it sees fit any amount raised in excess of $12 million.

A similar bill proposed by Sen. Royce West would put the onus on the businesses. His bill would call for a $5,000 annual registration fee for any adult-oriented business.

Both bills call for the projected revenue streams to go toward state-sponsored anti-sex-crime initiatives.

According to adult entertainment industry leaders in Texas, attempts by lawmakers to link sex crimes with sexually oriented businesses is unfair.

“To say there’s a link between sexual assault and gentlemen's clubs is ludicrous,” said Angelina Spencer, the executive director for the Association of Club Executives. “These taxes are a ruse to burden the club owner because somebody finds the business morally reprehensible. There is no evidence that links an increase in sexual assaults among women to adult entertainment clubs.”

Cohen said she wasn’t certain that patrons of adult entertainment were responsible for committing sex crimes throughout the state.

“But I do know that money is being made as a result of women being objectified,” she said. “When you think about raising funds from sexually oriented businesses for education, it's a knee-jerk reaction. When you talk about providing services for sexual assault programs, it seems like an apples to apples thing.”

West said the opening of an adult mega-store near his office inspired his bill. His bill also would require adult businesses to notify local officials of their intent to open a store or club at least 60 days prior to arriving in a community.

West said he also was considering an additional sales tax to items sold or rented at adult video stores.

“The fact is, we need to find additional sources of revenue, and this is one of several places we can look,” he said. “These people must have some disposable income, so they shouldn't mind.”