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Revenge of the Return of the Titty Tax

Legislators want third swipe at fee condemned as unconstitutional by district court

By Richard Whittaker, 11:30AM, Thu. Feb. 12, 2009

Revenge of the Return of the Titty Tax
Illustration by Doug Potter

Remember the titty tax? While the old bill is still caught up in the courts, legislators are trying for a third bite of the cherry (pardon the pun) on getting it to work.

In 2005, an attempt to amend House Bill 3 to include a $4 admission charge on sexually oriented businesses died in its tracks. Then last session House Bill 1751, authored last session by freshman Rep. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston, introduced a $5 surcharge on sexually oriented businesses where alcohol was available: But Judge Scott Jenkins of the 53rd District Court threw that out last March as an unconstitutional tax on content.

Yesterday, the attorney general dragged the issue before the Third Court of Appeals. But guess what? Turns out that Cohen and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault are working on a new version of the tax which TAASA claims fixes all the holes. As for the fact that HB 1751 was so broadly written that it swept up everything from strip joints to contemporary dance, "It was never our intention to tax traditional theatre," said TAASA Executive Director Torie Camp, "and we'll be working with counsel to ensure that [they] are not taxed."

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