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Judge strips Texas of its 'pole tax' on erotic dancing
The Legislature's levy, $5 per club patron, is to finance programs. The state will appeal.
HOUSTON — Texas was forced by federal law to end its poll tax on voters four decades ago, and now another levy has put the Lone Star State in constitutionally murky waters: the "pole tax."
Texas lawmakers last year imposed a $5-per-patron fee on strip joints to raise more than $40 million annually for anti-sexual-assault programs and healthcare for the uninsured.
The fee, which took effect Jan. 1, infuriated the owners of Texas' 162 strip clubs, who said politicians were cynically taxing a population they knew would not fight back. After all, critics reasoned, men who make a habit of drinking and stuffing currency in the attire of scantily clad women are usually not eager to tell the world about it at legislative hearings.
"It's not like Al Sharpton is going to show up and protest that we're being discriminated against," said a man who identified himself only as Dave, as he exited the Penthouse Club in Houston.
On March 28, however, Texas strip club devotees found a powerful ally: An Austin judge declared the pole tax unconstitutional, saying it infringed on expression protected by the 1st Amendment.
Travis County District Judge Scott H. Jenkins said in his ruling that laws limiting such expression had to pass strict constitutional tests and that the pole tax didn't because, among other things, indigent healthcare had no connection to strip joints.
Read more: L.A. Times
I thought it was the Church's job to define what sin is.
Are the city and state governments who impose these "sin taxes" crossing over the thin line separating Church and state?
Well, maybe, but it's for the "collective good." If those pervy, bourgeois strip-club patrons have money to put down strippers' G-strings, then they've got money to help fund my [insert entitlement here].
Originally posted by crazyinthemiddle
If they can tax gasoline, tobacco, alcohol, and fast food, I don't see why they can't tax this. It's a "luxury" plain and simple. And a $5 tax? Usually you have a two drink minimum ($10 atleast) and I've seen many guys drop $50-$100 on one dancer. Pretty much a non-issue being blown out of proportion in my eyes.