Sarasota Herald Tribune reports:
TALLAHASSEE — Going to a topless bar or paying for a personal escort service could help nursing home residents afford haircuts or movie tickets if lawmakers agree to an unusual new sales tax.
A proposed law, House Bill 751, would create a sales tax on “adult entertainment services” to provide nursing home residents and others more spending cash.
Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, said he was bothered by the low level of the $35 monthly “personal allowance” that low-income nursing home residents receive from Medicaid.
That money must pay for everything not supplied by a facility, including entertainment, haircuts and other costs.
Kriseman said the allowance has been stuck at $35 since the late 1980s. But the current budget crunch for state government, facing a multi-billion dollar drop in revenue, makes increasing the payments difficult.
So Kriseman and his staff decided that extending the sales tax to adult entertainment would generate enough money to pay for doubling the allowance to $70. The monthly payments also go to developmentally disabled and other low-income residents in state-run facilities, including the state mental hospital.
“People need to at least have a quality of life for the time they have left,” Kriseman said.
Despite a general reluctance among lawmakers to raise any tax, Kriseman said opposing his plan will be difficult given the source and the beneficiaries.
“I’m sorry if I’m going to cost you the tip you were going to put in somebody’s garter,” Kriseman said. “We’re not taxing your lap dance. We’re taxing your admission” for an adult entertainment service provider.
The bill defines those services to “include lingerie, bikini or nude modeling; body shampoos or scrubs; private shower shows; peep shows; nude, seminude or topless dancing; nude, seminude or topless waitressing; lap, friction, couch or table dancing; erotic massages or performances; nude photo sessions; and personal escort services.”
The bill had not been assigned a public hearing as of Monday. The Legislature is considering bills now through the scheduled end of the annual session on May 2. (source)
As a First Amendment advocate, my initial reaction to this is positive. If Mr. Kriseman’s bill passes, when censorship-monkeys like Rhonda Storms and Gary Siplin go off on one of their regularly scheduled crusades against adult entertainment, they’ll not only be attacking the First Amendment, but they’ll be creating an army of walking, talking, voting opponents — and we’re talking about the generation that survived the depression and then fought WWII.
Oh please let this bill pass. I want Rosie the riveter and a man who stormed the beach at D-Day to join forces with those of us who still love the First Amendment!
The next logical step would be to start making churches pay their fair share of taxes too.