Houston, Texas to Charge Strip Clubs with New 'Pole Tax'

| by Michael Allen

The Houston, Texas City Council passed an ordinance, on Wednesday, that will require strip clubs to pay a $5-per-visitor fee to help fund the analysis of biological evidence collected from rape victims to identify attackers.

Police in Houston, and in many other cities, lack the money to analyze hair particles and blood specimens, which are gathered by investigators in rape kits, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Houston estimates it has 6,000 rape kits that have yet to be checked by crime laboratories.

Supporters of the ordinance, which was supported by Mayor Annise Parker and approved on a 14-1 vote, say that strip clubs should pay some of the costs of rape investigations because the establishments contribute to sexual assaults.

However, a 2009 report by the University of Texas at Austin concluded that no study has "authoritatively linked alcohol, sexually oriented businesses, and the perpetration of violence."

Victoria Camp, Deputy Director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, said no one in her field believes that "if you walk into a strip club you become a rapist."

According to the ordinance, the fee would also apply to clubs that stage occasional adult entertainment, such as "a wet T-shirt contest or naked sushi contest." 

There are an estimated 30 clubs subject to the tax.