Bill filed to modify strip club fee

Got the following from State Rep. Ellen Cohen’s office:

State Representative Ellen Cohen filed House Bill 2070 today to reform the Adult Entertainment Fee she passed during the 80th Legislative Session in 2007.

“We have been successful in raising the money,” Cohen said. “The 1.9 million Texans who are victims of sexual assault could be greatly helped by the $11 million currently collected under this fee. This bill will move us closer to fully addressing sexual assault in Texas.”

Primarily, HB 2070 addresses constitutional concerns with two modifications from the original legislation. First, the new bill eliminates a spending provision that previously directed funds to indigent healthcare and will now dedicate all revenue collected to the Sexual Assault Program Fund 5010. Secondly, the fee assessed on certain sexually-oriented businesses would be lowered from $5 to $3 per patron.

Using all funds generated by the Adult Entertainment Fee directly for sexual assault programs will provide an estimated $18 million per year for the fund. This amount will allow for a comprehensive approach to address sexual assault issues in Texas, including research, prevention, response and sex offender management and treatment.

“In the end, the focus must remain on the victim survivors and providing them with the resources they need,” Cohen said. “As a Legislator, I will continue to work with members of both parties to bring support to those who need it most. I am confident that my fellow Legislators will, as always, vote with their districts in mind and support the thousands of women, children and men who are survivors of sexual assault.”

The original bill was declared unconstitutional by a Travis County court last March, on the grounds that it was a “content-based” tax that did not link the activity being taxed to the programs being funded. That ruling is under appeal by the state, but at the same time the proponents of the original legislation said they would file a bill to address that ruling. And so here we are.

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