Republican proposes tax on adult business

Greg Salzer

JEFFERSON CITY – Porn purveyors face new admission fees if proposed legislation passes.

Sexually-orientated businesses would also be charged a new 20 percent adjusted gross receipts tax.

Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Jackson) is the sponsor of legislation seeking to regulate sexually orientated businesses in response to complaints from constituents about the proliferation of adult businesses and billboards along Missouri highways.

“During the time when the porn industry has been expanding very aggressively in our state and advertising very aggressively up and down our roadways, our laws have not responded,” Bartle said.

“The Supreme Court and Federal Courts of Appeals do allow government to restrict the manner in which these businesses operate,” he said.

Sections of the proposed legislation would define key terms and prohibit physical contact between customers and semi-nude or nude performers.

A minimum age limit of 21 years would be set for employees and performers. The minimum age limit for customers would remain at 18 years old.

“We [would] make it illegal to receive tips while dancing or performing,” Bartle said. “We also prohibit touching between the patron and performer appearing nude or semi-nude.”

The bill is a work in progress and would not pass constitutional muster in its current form, Bartle said.

“Anytime the legislature endeavors to describe human behavior there is a certain amount of discretion that is going to vested in the courts,” Bartle said.

Bartle said he is working with the Missouri Attorney General’s office even now to draft constitutionally enforceable language, noting the presence of several attorney’s present waiting to testify in opposition to the bill.

Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia) said it was interesting the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Bartle, wanted to provide more regulation and more taxes on small businesses.

Several small business owners appeared to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 32.

There would be a negative economic impact, James Younger said.

Younger operates two video stores in central Missouri, where he says he was welcomed to the community by other business leaders.

His 14 employees have better than average pay and health insurance, Younger said.

Shawn Simner, a small business owner from a small community north of St. Joseph, said his customers would have to travel to other states if the measure passed.

“You are trying to take jobs away from us,” Alice Hopkins said.

Hopkins works as a manager for a sexually orientated video store.