The legislation, proposed by Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, would charge between $3 and $5 per visitor at every strip club in Georgia. Murphy says he would forward the additional revenue to therapeutic programs for victims of child prostitution and other forms of sex-related abuse because the state has cut funding for a lot of such services to compensate for statewide falling revenues.
Although Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the state senate, says he is reluctant to add such a fee because “this is not the time for raising taxes,” Murphy says the fee “isn’t going to make much of a difference. That’s not even the price of a drink at most of these places.”
Many in opposition to the proposed legislation argue that a fee would not only make a difference, but also put many of these strip clubs out of business.
“You’re not just putting a tax on the patrons of the adult clubs,” said Aubrey Villines, a lawyer who has represented strip-club-owner Jack Galardi. “What does it do to the waitresses, to the food workers, to the parking attendants? The people who all depend on this industry for work?”
A similar strip-club fee of $5 per patron was instated in Texas in January 2008. In this case, a state district judge ruled in March that the fee was unconstitutional in that it violated the First Amendment.
Murphy says he will announce his final decision after consulting legislative leadership.