General Merchandise/HBC

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25% tax urged for sexually explicit magazines, merchandise in Kansas c-stores

TOPEKA, Kansas -- Supporters of a proposal to place an excise tax on sexually oriented businesses said Friday that it should go even further, reported the Kansas City Star. They told the Kansas House Tax Committee that the tax should be 25%, not 10%, and that it should be extended to all sexually explicit merchandise, including hotel movies and magazines sold at some convenience stores.

In its current form, the bill (HB 2680) would apply to escort services, strip clubs and adult book and video stores. It is modeled after a Utah law and a bill before [image-nocss] the Oklahoma Legislature, said the report.

The behavior choices of sex offenders are fueled with the merchandise available at sexually oriented businesses, said State Representative Shari Weber (R), the bill's sponsor.

In urging the higher tax rate, Phillip Cosby, an anti-pornography activist from Abilene, said 10% would not be enough to offset the adverse effects of pornography on society. He pointed to a bill in the U.S. Senate that would impose a 25% tax on the profits of Internet pornography. If 30% of the inmates in our Kansas prisons are sex offenders, I think it's a logical place to set that [tax] percentage.

According to the Star, researchers estimated last fall that a 10% tax would result in about $1 million in revenue. That amount would be higher, Cosby said, if pornographic products were taxed as well as adult-oriented businesses.

No one spoke Friday against the proposal, the report said, but last fall a lawyer representing three adult video and bookstores in Wichita said such a law would violate the right of free speech and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. He promised a lawsuit if the bill became law.

State Rep. Kenny Wilk (R), committee chairman, assigned the bill to a subcommittee to work on suggested changes and make sure all the legal aspects were analyzed. The subcommittee will be led by State Rep. Lance Kinzer (R). Wilk said writing legislation to cover certain products was more difficult than applying a tax to a business.

If enacted, 40% of the revenue generated by the tax would be used for the treatment of sex offenders and their victims, 40% would go to the Kansas Department of Corrections and 20% would go toward Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's prosecution of criminals who use the Internet to procure children or teenagers for sex, said the report.

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