House Republicans Wage War on Strip Clubs

Since I’ve taken to a new-found “War on Women” with my approach on Georgia’s proposed “Hidden Predator Act,” I figured I would stay consistent and go after the recently dropped “Safe Harbor Act” – also referred to as ‘Rachel’s Law’-  addressing Human Trafficking as well. House Bill 244, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration, calls for a complete overhaul of our oversight in regard to ‘adult establishments’ in Georgia while effectively doing nothing to halt sexual exploitation crimes or aid law enforcement in crackdowns. The bill is graphic and disturbing.  I recognize that this issue may be a little uncomfortable to discuss for some of our reserved southerners, but that is not the perspective that should guide us here. We should look through the limited government lens and remind ourselves that just because we may not like something, that does not mean we should try to make it go away.

Here is a brief summary of what the bill does:

  1. Establishes a commission, The Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission, created by appointments by the Governor as well as DFCS employees, to create another layer of government.
  2. Calls for a $5,000 “operations fee” or 1% of gross revenue PER YEAR, whichever is greater, on adult entertainment establishments (See lines 159-170 for definition of what that is) to be put toward an account, the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund, to shelter and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and other sexual exploitation crimes. Some of the fund is managed by DFCS and the remainder by the state treasury specifically for the SHSEC Fund (lines 189-196). This is in addition to any local fees as well as any other state business operating expenses.
  3. Allows for commission to apply for federal funds and grants.
  4. Allows for an expansion of civil forfeiture of assets for those accused of and convicted of these crimes, including but not limited to motor vehicles and monetary funds.
  5. Requires that any person convicted of human trafficking, or similar offenses, be required to register as a sexual offender.

So, to jump right into it:

  • It is indeed a known fact that human trafficking sometimes originates in strip clubs. Not all strip clubs, but some. We have no known data that illustrates any such connection, though. A mere correlation is not enough for legislative action.
  • We have a nonprofit sector which was established to fill in where both the public and private sectors fall short. It is acceptable for nonprofits to apply for and accept federal funds and grants, but why – in an era when our State is working to get out of as many federal initiatives as possible- would we work to enact legislation where we would again be at the mercy of the feds when it comes to ANY activity within our state borders?
  • The bill calls for extreme oversight and audits of the revenues and expenditures of these establishments by the Department of Revenue. What is the cost of the increased and constant oversight of these establishments?

If this legislation is a war on anything, it is not human trafficking, but strip clubs. $5,000 or 1% of gross revenue (lines 296-300) will effectively close the doors of small establishments with less traffic and cripple the larger ones. Our localities are already waging a war against these establishments, some of which are under consideration in our courts but we are now expanding this crusade in an insincere manner.
Unlike the open, honest, and transparent anti-free market proposals for bans on Uber and Lyft, this legislation is extremely dishonest. If the intent of the legislation is to close these types of establishments all together, then I suggest that any legislator propose such a bill and see how that goes over.

The bill fails to do anything to actually reducing human trafficking as a crime and it offers no true deterrents. Law enforcement agencies have the capability to shut these types of establishments down if they are breaking the law. And I hate to break it to our legislative friends, but the establishments that are actually engaging in human trafficking activities are not going to stop because of an “operational fee.” Criminals don’t follow the law – we know this. We are once again punishing the ‘not guilty’ by casting a wide net on the hope of limiting a few. That is wrong.

Masking this legislation as it tramples the free market and injects more bureaucracy into our state government is a disgrace to this issue and the initiatives of those who are actually trying to put an end to human trafficking. And I am wildly disappointed that Republicans are using an atrocity to expand the size and scope of government…for the children.

24 comments

  1. Dave Bearse says:

    A fee? That’s rich. No doubt it’s the intention of the General Assembly to use it in some manner or another, but Georgia has a well-established practice of using fees for whatever suits the day at hand.

  2. George Chidi says:

    If $5000 a year could close a strip club down, then the place is exactly the kind of questionable dive that should be closing down. That said, all civil forfeiture laws allowing confiscation without a conviction should be challenged.

    Strippers aren’t the problem. Enlist their aid, and they’re actually part of the solution.

    Ah, but strippers! As I noted recently, they’re like Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle some stripper on something boring and people will eat it up.

    I am more than a little curious about whether this revenue stream might be directed toward the obscene lack of emergency shelter for women and children in suburban metro Atlanta. It’s a general problem here, but Gwinnett in particular has had a crisis for more than a decade, in which women fleeing abuse at home have nowhere to go. It’s not hard to connect the dots between Atlanta’s human sex trafficking problem and the lack of shelter space for those trying to escape abuse.

    Jessica’s right. There are better, more direct ways to get at this. Redirect police resources from harassing people for nonsense and focus on investigations of these crimes. Build up the social services infrastructure, the lack of which has made it easy to slip through the cracks here.

  3. John Pezold says:

    Perhaps we should play my most favorite game: Apply This Same Logic

    I’ll go first: The General Assembly should add a fee of 1% of gross revenue to any car dealer (new or used) in Georgia. The reason? There’s a strong correlation between DUI infractions and the use of automobiles.

    • Rick Day says:

      TrueFact: 100% of human traffickers use a vehicle to commit their crime. Seems like as legit a reason as this next ‘save the kiddos from strippers’. The are like my daughter’s age, so there is no real chemistry. It is just something different to do.

      I rarely (maybe three times in the past decade, if that) frequent such establishments. But when I do, I pay for the lap dance, but I ask them to sit beside me and talk about their life and dreams (almost all I met were working through getting a degree without resorting to escorting or student loans, both predatory in nature).

      I am not in that part of the ‘club’ business, but it seems a cash cow for those intent on avoiding following codes and ordinances. When it comes to cash, there are lots of ways of avoiding paying one’s dues.

      Hope Rep Chuck won’t wake up with the head of Mr. Ed. in his bed.

  4. Joash Thomas says:

    While I don’t necessarily agree with the need for imposing penalties on the Adult Entertainment industry, I do believe that the rest of its language should be kept. Of course this bill does not focus on reducing human trafficking (even though it increases fines and penalties on johns). It focuses on providing aftercare rehabilitation for minors rescued from human trafficking, something that is within the role of the government.

  5. Rick Day says:

    [insert comment about how religious morals are taking over government]
    [insert comment about taxes disguised as fees]
    [make off hand remark about the non sequiturs connecting AES’s, actual sex, and human trafficking, while pointing out how coyotes are also involved in human trafficking for farm labor]
    [use one of a few common euphemisms (clutching pearls, fainting couch, etc)]
    [wrap up with smarmy comment about issue prioritization]

    Edit: We are currently working on a response template for this forum. Please pardon the construction.

  6. saltycracker says:

    We see a Jessica trend here attacking Republicans that want to become the leaders of social order. 🙂

    I haven’t got past my GOP’s “boots on the ground” leadership push right when middle east nations came alert after one of theirs (a pilot) was beheaded and promising to take it to ISIS.

    Darn, the next news will be Democrats insisting on becoming the leaders in fiscal responsibility and reigning in debt increases with no new taxes.

    180 degrees…….

    • Ghost of William F. Buckley says:

      Good post, asks the right questions of how this Bill may actually help anyone, without becoming another bloated program dependent on Federal funds to survive.

      I actually think that this would be the winning strategy in 2016, “…the next news will be Democrats insisting on becoming the leaders in fiscal responsibility and reigning in debt increases with no new taxes.”

      Cynical enough to believe that would be the Carnie’s pitch and the marks would actually believe it…

  7. MattMD says:

    Is there anything more hysterical than sex offender or “human trafficking” laws these days?

    Let me leave this here:

  8. blakeage80 says:

    If you’re going to through the word trafficking into a bill, then it’s really a transportation issue. All money raised though this ‘user fee’ should go straight to the DOT.

    Taxing is really a poor way to reduce crime of any sort.

    This sort of joke bill really brings out one’s inner Bevis and Butthead. (I know I’m not the only one that has one of those)

  9. chefdavid says:

    I am sure this bill will require much research by our legislatures by visiting said establishments. Furthermore whats an intern to do when the legislature is out of session to make a dollar? What a funny day it will be when the dancers start hitting the gold dome to lobby against this bill.

  10. ieee says:

    Ah, the good old “register as a sexual offender” – the real punishment. The lifelong punishment that can change all the time. The punishment that will turn anyone into a lifelong terrible citizen who has no concern for other people. Smart. Not.

    What these brilliant un-Americans who support the Sex Offender Registries (SORs) should learn is what experts have known all along – the SORs do not prevent sex crimes but they make nearly every single person listed on one more dangerous than if he/she were not listed. Smart. Not.

    Also, Georgia’s criminal legislators should worry about trying to figure out how they have failed to get the rest of their nanny big government Registries created rather than worry about how to add people to their failed SOR.

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