Texas Strip Club Tax Ruled Unconstitutional

Last week, a state district judge in Texas struck down the state’s $5 per patron strip club tax that took affect at the top of this year. The “pole tax”, as it was jokingly dubbed, required clubs to pay a $5 fee for every patron who entered any establishment that offers live adult entertainment.

Travis County Judge Scott Jenkins ruled the tax unconstitutional and prohibited the state from collecting or imposing the fee. In his ruling, Judge Jenkins wrote that the fee taxes “expression that, while politically unpopular, is nevertheless protected by the First Amendment.”

Texas state Attorney General Greg Abbott plans to appeal the ruling. The backers of the law also plan to rewrite it so they can find a way to circumvent the argument of constitutionality. Democrat State Representative Ellen Cohen of Houston (pictured at right), the original sponsor of the bill, said she will work to find a way to amend the law so it sticks the next time she tries to get it passed.

Strip clubs may be politically unpopular, but judging by the millions of customers who patronize them each year and the thousands of dancers who entertain at them, they appear to us to be very popular. The strip club tax was expected to raise $40 million per year. At $5 a head, that means that eight million visits were expected to strip clubs in Texas each year.

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