Governor Deal signed both SR 7 and SB 8, the Republican war on strip clubs/the pole tax, into law on Tuesday setting a painfully dangerous precedent of taxing an entire industry simply out of a lack of affinity for it. The bill, which will add a $5,000 or 1% fee/tax/assessment on adult entertainment establishments, seeks to fund a victims of sex trafficking compensation and rehabilitation fund, despite the lack of connection between these establishments and trafficking. Voters will decide if that money will go into a newly created fund via constitutional amendment in November 2016.
But attorney Alab Begner told WABE that the law “will be challenged.” He said he is unsure how many clubs will sign onto a suit but noted that nude dancing is free speech and you cannot tax free speech. Begner has represented 2/3 of the nude dancing clubs in free speech cases over the years.
Senator Renee Unterman, the bill’s sponsor, told WABE, they deserve to be taxed and “anytime you have a community that starts going downhill, it’s typically in these areas, and those establishments never do anything to help clean up the neighborhoods.” Whatever that means.
From the well of the House on the day of the vote, Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver said something to the effect of looking forward to strip clubs attempting to challenge this in court because she believes they will lose. Now, the state Attorney General’s office is saying they are prepared to defend the law.
It looks like that judgment day may not be too far away.