Strip Club Owners Sue City of Houston Over ‘Pole Tax’

Houston strip clubs are suing the City of Houston over a new fee set to go into effect next week.

Back in June, Houston City Council enacted a $5 per customer fee on strip clubs.

Councilmember Ellen Cohen advocated for the fee after passing similar legislation when she was a state representative.

The statewide fee applies to businesses that provide nude dancing. It does not apply in Houston, where only semi-nude entertainment is permitted.

“We have thousands of untested sexual assault kits and the fee was designed to generate the income to help test those kits.”

Cohen says there is statistical research that shows a connection between nude dancing and alcohol at sexually oriented businesses and increased violence toward women.

But attorneys for the strip clubs say the fee is unconstitutional and unfairly targets strip clubs, versus regular bars and other
establishments that also attract crime.

Strip clubs were supposed to start paying the fee on October 20th, but those payments may now be delayed as the matter is taken up by a state district court.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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