Ga. Lawmaker Considers Strip Club Fee

ATLANTA — A Georgia state senator said today that he is thinking of imposing fees on strip club patrons to help fund programs for victims of sexual abuse.

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.