State Senate Gives New "Pole Tax" a Whirl

The Austin American-Statesman reports this afternoon that the state Senate has given its unanimous OK to new-and-improved legislation that revamps the contentious "pole tax" imposed upon, ya know, gentleman's establishments a couple of years back. The original legislation, which imposed a $5-per-customer charge, wasn't a big hit with topless bar owners; said The Lodge's Dawn Rizos, "It's unfair in many ways, and it hurts our industry." And a judge slapped it down as unconstitutional.

Hence, the new legislation, which the House approved last month and which taxes a percentage of the admission fee -- with 25 percent going toward the Foundation School Fund, and the rest headed to the state's general fund, from which it will be "transferred to the Sexual Assault Program Fund," says the Statesman. Alas, state Sen. Royce West isn't terribly happy with the new legislation either: "Sexually oriented businesses can wire around this by not charging an admission fee." Bonus.

Update at 2:59 p.m. Wednesday: The Senate today recalled the legislation as it was headed to Governor Perry's desk. Notes the Associated Press, "Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, said he pulled it back for a few days so a competing House version doesn't supersede it. The last bill passed is the one that takes effect, he said."

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