Calderon May Raise Proposed Calif. Porn Tax to 25 Percent

Calderon May Raise Proposed Calif. Porn Tax to 25 Percent
Tom Hymes
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As a group of adult entertainment industry representatives descended on Sacramento Monday to lobby legislators against AB 2914 — a proposed bill that would impose an additional 8 percent tax on all sales and services related to the industry — the author of the bill, Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-City of Industry, was threatening to raise the tax to 25 percent.

Word of Calderon's intent to increase a tax that industry attorneys say is unconstitutional at any amount came in the middle of the day as 55 industry members from all areas of the business — who came to Sacramento as part of the Free Speech Coalition's annual Lobbying Days event — broke into ten groups to meet with 90 lawmakers and their staffs.

After a 10:30 a.m. press conference in the governor's press room, groups that ranged from four to six people spent the rest of the day in scheduled meetings with legislators from both parties, and also dropped by other offices unannounced in the hopes of catching their ear.

Later in the afternoon, Wicked Pictures sponsored a legislative reception for lawmakers and staffers in a restaurant directly across the street from the capitol. The afternoon discussions were dominated by the news that Calderon had reportedly decided to increase the proposed tax threefold, a move that will not sit well with state Republican lawmakers, many of whom are on record promising to oppose any and all tax bills introduced this year despite a projected budget deficit of $16 billion.

Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke had harsh words for Calderon's attempt to justify a huge tax increase by asserting that money raised will go to ameliorate the so-called "secondary effects" caused by the industry and its products. She said such a tax would not only drive many adult businesses out of the state or out of business but would cause serious harm to many individuals and their families.

“Calderon is attempting to push through a tax bill based on lies and misinformation," she said. "He is insinuating that our industry imposes blight on California and its economy. One of the women with whom I was lobbying is using the income she makes at a dance club to support her mother and her son and fund her tuition to nursing school. She told me that her dancing allowed her the income she needed to support her family and the flexibility she needed to be a good student and a good mother.

"We told this story and many like it to our California legislators," she continued. "Fortunately, a number of reasoned legislators understand the vital role the adult entertainment industry plays in California’s economy, as well the contribution the industry makes to the quality of life for countless Californians.”

Duke had special thanks for FSC Sacramento lobbyist Matt Gray, who helped organize Lobbying Days and who keeps close tabs on attempts by state legislators to pass bills that impact the industry, often without even consulting first with its representatives, and also for the many people who traveled far and wide to meet with state representatives.

In addition to Lobbying Days regulars, such as performers Nina Hartley, Mary Carey and Dave Cummings, and industry vets Joy King from Wicked, Joan Irvine from ASACP, AVN's Mark Kernes, Gill Sperlein of Titan Media and FSC Board Chair Jeffrey J. Douglas, many new faces took part this year, including a large contingent of adult cabaret owners and employees.

XBIZ called Assemblyman Calderon's office this morning for confirmation about the supposed tax increase but had not received a call back by post time.

AB 2914 has been referred to a May 5 meeting of the State Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation.

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