Texas Strip Clubs Subject to Unconstitutional Pole Tax

AUSTIN — Texas district Judge Stephen Yelenosky ruled last week that the state could still collect a fee from strip clubs previously declared unconstitutional while the state appeals that decision, according to the Associated Press.

A letter issued to strip club owners by the state comptroller following Yelenosky's ruling said the first "pole tax" payments were due immediately, and if gone unpaid, would have a five percent penalty added.

The fee — a mandatory $5 cover charge to go toward sexual assault services and health care for the poor — was overturned March 28 by state district Judge Scott Jenkins as a violation of the First Amendment.

Because Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed Jenkins' decision, the injunction against the state's collecting the fee automatically became suspended.

"It's a grave injustice that the attorney general and the comptroller would use procedural court technicalities to continue to trample on the rights of these business owners," said attorney Stewart Whitehead, counsel for the Texas Entertainment Association, which includes more than half of the state's adult clubs.