Lawmakers want strip club customers to pay fee - WKRN News 2

Lawmakers want strip club customers to pay fee

Posted: Updated: Feb 26, 2013 10:11 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A proposed state law aims to raise money to help the victims of sexual violence by charging people who go to adult entertainment businesses an extra fee.

The Tennessee House subcommittee on state government is expected to discuss a measure that would add a $10 fee to the admission customers pay at all Tennessee adult entertainment businesses that feature nude dancing and allow people to drink alcohol on site.

The money generated would be used to provide grants to organizations that raise awareness about sexual assaults and violence and help fund crisis response for victims of sexual assaults and sex trafficking.

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence is in support of the measure.

The organization said the adult-oriented businesses should fund services for sexual assault because they contribute to a culture that tolerates the sexual objectification and exploitation of women.

"That leads to harassment, abuse and rape of women resulting in the need for community-based services to respond to victims of sexual assault," the group wrote in its talking points about the bill.

The adult entertainment industry opposes the bill and says the law singles them out in an unconstitutional way.

The Tennessee Cabaret Association, an organization that is made up of adult entertainment businesses from across the state, said that it's bad public policy to single out any business.

"To add a fee such as this whether it's a dollar, five dollars or ten dollars without equally applying it to all entertainment venues makes it a selective tax," spokeswoman Tracy O'Neill said.

In 2008, the Tennessee Attorney General issued an opinion about a similar measure that would impose a $5 fee for adult entertainment establishment patrons.

The bill, like the one proposed this session, would provide money to help the victims of sexual abuse.

"It is our opinion that a court would find this state privilege tax imposed only on adult-oriented establishments for the entry of each customer to be unconstitutional," the Attorney General wrote.

O'Neill said that adult entertainment businesses pay taxes just like any other business and they supply hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the country.

"It's just like any other business and if you don't like the business, don't come here," she added.

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence said similar laws have been passed in Texas and Illinois.

California, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and several other states are considering similar legislation this year as well.

The House State Government subcommittee is set to take up the issue beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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