Archive for Monday, July 18, 2005

Idea of sin tax on pornography intrigues some state legislators

July 18, 2005


— In an ongoing campaign against stores selling explicit DVDs, sex toys, reading material and novelties, Phillip Cosby is advocating a new tactic - imposing a special state tax on such businesses.

If the state taxes tobacco and alcohol to raise money to offset the health and societal damage they do, why not impose a similar sin tax on pornography? That's the reasoning of Cosby, a 54-year-old Abilene porn opponent.

The idea isn't as far-fetched as it seems. Utah imposed such a tax in 2004, and legislators in several states, including Missouri, have considered the idea.

And with Kansas legislators pressed next year to find more money for public schools and to prevent a budget shortfall, the idea intrigues some of them.

"All I know is that I've always heard that if you subsidize something, you get more of it, and if you tax it, you get less of it," said House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka. "It'd be nice to have less porn."

Mays and other legislative leaders are scheduled to meet today to determine what issues lawmakers will study this summer and fall, in preparation for their 2006 session, which convenes Jan. 9.

Cosby's idea is on their agenda, endorsed by the House member who represents Abilene.

"Here we've got a court-upheld business that changed the community for the worse, and they're escaping a sin tax," Cosby said. "This is just another tool."

Cosby hasn't worked out any details yet - how a sexually oriented business would be defined, the amount of the tax or how it would be enforced.

Rep. Shari Weber, R-Herington, whose district includes Abilene, said the idea has merit, especially because legislators will be looking for revenues. But she added, "This probably raises eyebrows."

For two years, since the Lion's Den opened along Interstate 70 at Abilene, Cosby's goal has been to run sexually oriented businesses out of business.

Near the store is a billboard that Cosby and others put up proclaiming: "Jesus Heals and Restores. Pornography Destroys."

He and church groups attempted unsuccessfully to get a grand jury to indict two Salina stores, Behind Closed Doors and Priscilla's.

In Dickinson County, the Abilene store faces 10 misdemeanor charges of promoting obscenity, and a Sept. 9 trial is scheduled.

Last year, Dickinson County commissioners enacted an ordinance requiring the stores' owners and employees to obtain annual licenses, at a cost of $500 for each owner and $50 for each employee. The ordinance also requires such a business to remain 1,500 feet from an interstate and mandates that it close by 10 p.m. The store is challenging the ordinance in federal court.

Meanwhile, Cosby plans to meet Wednesday with ministers in Topeka in hopes of getting a local campaign going.

And in Lawrence, sexually oriented businesses have until July 31 to be located on a state highway. The owner of one store, Naughty but Nice, has promised to fight efforts by the city to force his business to move from its location south of downtown.

Cosby said such businesses create social problems, including crime, blight and decreased property values.

"If those things are going to impact the community, then let's hit them in the pocketbook," he said.

Locally and nationwide, owners of sexually oriented bookstores, novelty shops, strip clubs and escort services dispute the idea that their businesses have "secondary" effects. Mike Zrubek, owner of Behind Closed Doors, said his store generates sales tax and property tax revenues for his community.

Zrubek also said Cosby's campaign has helped business - giving Behind Closed Doors what amounts to free advertising. He said he hopes within the next year to move and expand his business.

"It's not bugging me one bit," he said. "There's always going to be someone who doesn't like what you're doing."

Though Zrubek doubts legislators would pass a porn tax, he worries that a levy could hurt his business.

Similar concerns led six strip clubs and one escort service in Utah to go to court to block its year-old law, which imposes a 10 percent tax on admission fees, sales, food and drinks at a sexually oriented business. That case is pending.

Their attorney, Andrew McCullough, said he's heard from colleagues in Iowa, Texas and Washington about similar tax proposals.

The Oklahoma House approved a similar tax this year, but the bill had little support in the Senate. In Missouri, a state senator proposed a 20 percent tax and a $5 per-person admission charge. But his idea was dropped and legislation later was enacted to ban nude dancing and mandate that dancers stay at least 10 feet away from customers.

"It'll spread like wildfire if I don't kill it here in Utah, and I intend to kill it here in Utah," McCullough said.


Kevin Surbaugh 12 years, 4 months ago

one_more_bob - LOL, I left the computer and went to work. Can't stay home all day. - Kevin S.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 4 months ago

Rep. Phillip Cosby is the best advertisement Priscilla's did not buy. The more signs he puts up the more attention he draws to the store thus more sales. I am surprised Priscilla's has not sent him a dividend check.

Rep. Cosby if you do not want people to know about something why draw so much attention to the subject matter? If you were to mind your own business it might go away or at least not thrive...think about it.

Richard Heckler Lawrence,Kansas

neopolss 12 years, 4 months ago

If we are going to throw around bogus information, then let's throwo one out. Studies show that in societies that are more open to pornographic material, there is less violence and abuse directed at women than there is in stricter communities.

While the fact is true, it is flawed in that it only represents a minor part of a larger issue of control factors. Of course this also shows that the other side is using the same flawed arguments to cover what is really their religious agenda.

The fact is, some people are still uncomfortable with sexuality and therefore consider sexual behavior or sexual related activity as evil, sinful, and wrong. Again it becomes fear and lack of education.

usaschools 12 years, 4 months ago

I don't think that a tax on porn magazines and internet subscriptions to porn would be a bad idea. I don't think there is any need to tax businesses such as Pricilla's and the like. Just plain old porn. No need to get into a big debate on the definition - if it shows anyone dressed/undressed in such a way that they could not go to the public pool without getting arrested, it is porn! A tax on it would be a great idea in my personal opinion. It wouldn't significantly harm anyone. It's about time some of the hypocrites who make a public showing of being so conservative but consume huge amounts of porn paid some taxes! We know they are out there; there are not enough liberals in the entire state to purchase all the porn sold in Kansas!

Horace 12 years, 4 months ago

How could the LJ World report on an issue like this without the word "Constitution" being in the report?

Kevin Surbaugh 12 years, 4 months ago

Yes neopolss, society has become more accepting of porn, that still doesn't mean we can't issue sin taxes on it. In fact it gives it even more reason to tax it. It is still considered a "sin" by many, like alcohol and tobacco so at it high time we put "sin taxes" on the sell of the videos, toys and etc. I am not sure about Utah's strip clubs, but it is a very interesting idea. - Kevin

John Davies 12 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps we could also bring in a "pulpit tax" on ministers that want to have influence people outside their congregations? Just a thought!

Kevin Surbaugh 12 years, 4 months ago

gunug - that is not something that you purchase. over the years I have seen politicians who both smoke and drink vote for so called "sin tax" on alcohol and tobacco. Why not include the sell of porn and the related paraphernalia. I am supprised it hadn't already been thought of before and its time has come. Come 2006 I expect this to pass and porn shops as well the book stores that sell say playboy and hustler will have charge tax on each sell of these item, in the same way grocery stores do for beer and tobacco. Its a great way to raise revenue without raising property taxes or the overall sales tax. - Kevin Surbaugh

newsreader 12 years, 4 months ago

Better put an extra tax on McDonalds, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and all those Chip companies too... I'm sure those are worse for me and the US Health Care System then a little porn

Kevin Surbaugh 12 years, 4 months ago

one_more_bob - I am only responding to peoples comments. That is all. I believe in discussion, and post a comment and running off is not a discussion, instead that is hit and run. - Kevin S.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 4 months ago

My my I wonder what exactly the legislators would tax?

You bet I would support a public education support fee on soda pop,chips,bottled water and cheese burgers say 5 cents a hit.

Results from 3 different tests revealed that filtered bottled water was no different than tap water with the exception of lower chlorine content.

If anybody wants significant change in their drinking water reverse osmosis or distilled is the way to go. Smart Water is distilled with added electrolytes. We chose to go with a home distiller and increased the intake of fruit and veggies... yum.

opinionated 12 years, 4 months ago

Personnally I don't support the tax, but I don"t oppose it either, because everyone should have the freedom to choose what they do behind closed doors with their partners without being penalized for it. And if every time someone suggested an extra tax on something they opposed, there would be extra tax on everything. Personnally I am tired of the government taking a quarter of my lousy paycheck in taxes and then every time I want to buy something or even pay a bill there is more taxes I have to pay then. So in the end the government already gets about half of my paycheck, they don't need anymore of it, I have a family to support. So all of you with these ideas to raise taxes all the time, I propose that you pay the extra taxes that you support while leaving the rest of us out of it and stop giving the government more excuses to take my money.

Lilith 12 years, 4 months ago


Liliths Lair, a adult boutique in Springfield, Missouri warned Kansas and other surrounding state retailers in a press release several months ago about the "copy-cat sin tax " that was sure to spread to other states. Lucky Missouri excaped this " sin tax " which was before the Missouri House in the Spring of 2005. For now at least.

Does this Phillip Cosby,a resident of Abliene Kansas, the one-man anti-porn cursader ever come up with an original idea ?

In 2004 he bluffed a legal stupid pubic into believing the " he had discovered a little known law " to force a Grand Jury investigation in the State of Kansas. Cosby didn't discover anything, this law is used every day, in every state in the union !

The real trick Cosby pulled out of his anti-porn hate hat, was getting anyone to take his " Special Grand Jury Request " serious.

Now Phillip Cosby must sit around with his chest puffed out, as he takes credit " for his idea " of imposing a special sin-tax of 20 per cent on any items sold as Adult in Kansas. His personal idea ? To raise money for the Kansas School system ? Does he really want money from porn to educate children ? How sick is this guy ?

His idea ? This same issue was tossed around in the Missouri House last year, by ex-preacher now state senator Matt Bartle ( R ) , costing Missouri tax payers thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours. The proposed Bill was kicked around in various writings in Missouri and trampled on by every discussion group, and at every hearing. A small portion of Bartle's big plan, was passed in a last minute tack on to a DWI Bill, which will soon be going before Missouri Courts and more than likly tossed right out the door. The only losers, are the Missouri tax payers, for wasting time on such unconsititional garbage.

Cosby and Bartle both should be wise enough to know that the " big ideas " that they both share are unconstitutional, but I don't want to give them too much credit. At least Cosby ( self admitted to the Assoc. Press ) that he " wants to hit the Adult Stores where it hurts them the most, the pocket book". At least he's honest enough to admit, his ploy is to harm, not to help !

But my post here is not to compare two zealots that wish to violate your freedoms, because they obviously have some deep personal issues they can't get over. But I am here to ask one question...

Does this Phillip Cosby, ever have an orginal thought ? And if not, does he actually think that the people of Kansas are so stupid, that he can actually lay back and " take credit for his idea " without someone ( like me ) exposing this phony to the People ?

Your sins will seek you out, Mr. Cosby !

Thanks for visting LILITH's LAIR !

1skywatcher 12 years, 2 months ago

All you congress men think about is taxing everything and everyone. Leave these people alone. You are imoral too. Bet you went to the porn stores when you was young and read playboy too. You JERKS! Leave the porn stores alone.

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