News

"Pole Tax" Dances Into Texas Supreme Court

As you no doubt recall, the state of Texas has been trying for years to find a way to make its so-called "pole tax" stick. The first time around, a judge slapped down the $5-per-gentleman's-club-customer fee -- which was earmarked for sexual assault prevention programs -- as unconstitutional; last year's second spin -- which taxed a percentage of topless joints' admission fees -- was likewise tied up in litigation, and the $12 million raised so far is in an account waiting for the outcome of the case. State Sen. Royce West didn't like it anyway: "Sexually oriented businesses can wire around this by not charging an admission fee."

But as the Houston Chronicle reported over the weekend, a resolution's due sooner than later: The case of the pole tax is going before the Texas Supreme Court in March. State legislators still want to see the tax levied. But a former Harris County prosecutor says this is really a tax on free speech. And with that, the quote of the week: "You start down a pathway that could lead to censorship-based government like that which exists in Iran."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky