Texas strip clubs must pay 'pole tax' during appeal
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas still expects strip clubs to pay the
so-called "pole tax" while the state appeals a court ruling that
the fee is unconstitutional.
The state comptroller has sent a letter to strip clubs saying
the fee is active and that the first reports and payments are due
Monday. If they aren't sent in, a 5 percent penalty will be levied
on the club.
Strip clubs have vowed to keep fighting the fee.
Austin attorney Stewart Whitehead represents the Texas
Entertainment Association, which includes more than half the
topless clubs in Texas. He tells The Dallas Morning News that the
state's insisting on assessing fees that it knows are
unconstitutional. He calls that "a grave injustice."
Last year, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved the
five-dollar cover fee on strip club patrons. The 40 million dollars
to be collected annually was designated to sexual assault services
and health insurance to the poor.
But on March 28, state district Judge Scott Jenkins ruled the
fee was an illegal tax on "expression that, while politically
unpopular, is nevertheless protected by the First Amendment."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)