Oklahoma House passes sin tax

Wednesday, March 2nd 2005, 10:12 am
By: News On 6

If you deal in "sex," you should have to pay for the social sins that come with it. That is according to state Republican lawmakers who have proposed a new tax on sexually-oriented businesses.

House Bill 1532 passed in the state house Tuesday, but some Democrats are digging in their heels against it.

News on 6 anchor Tami Marler says supporters of House Bill 1532 say businesses like strip clubs, adult book stores and escort services, drive up sex-related crimes, so the sex industry should have to pay. The state House overwhelmingly approved the bill on Tuesday, but a small group of Democrats vowed to stand their ground against it.

The Sexually Explicit Businesses and Escort Service Tax Act states that these activities are harmful to the welfare of [Oklahoma's] citizens. "Democrat leaders had opposed a common sense issue that most Oklahomans would support."

Republican state Representative Dale DePue says his bill would generate about $1.5-million a year, which would go toward domestic violence and sexual abuse programs. We contacted several local businesses, whose representatives refused to go on camera, but told us they didn't believe their clientele would be turned away by an additional ten percent tax.

Still, many said they didn't think the tax was fair. House Bill 1532 is based on recently-passed Utah legislation, which took effect in July of last year. Utah's sex entertainment industry is challenging that law in Supreme Court. House Bill 1532 also includes a proposal that would save business owners who pay for their own health insurance, more than $1.5-million in tax breaks.

Opponents say it legitimizes businesses that degrade women. The bill easily passed in the state House. It now goes on for state Senate approval.