A new $5 sin tax on strip clubs in Houston will go to help reduce the city’s backlog of an estimated 4,000-6,000 rape kits that have remained untested because of limited resources.
The $5 tax was promoted by City Council member Ellen Cohen and was passed in a 14-1 vote on Wednesday.
The new “pole tax” is expected to generate $1-3 million in revenue for the city.
“The majority of people are enthusiastic,” Cohen said. “We lose sight of the fact that those are people. Between four and six thousand people who have been sexually assaulted went through one of the worst things you can go through. The indignity of a rape kit is not 10 minutes behind a screen; it’s a long, laborious, embarrassing procedure.”
Not all rape kits will be processed from start to finish, however. The cost of such testing is approximately $1,100, Cohen said.
Strip club owners have vowed to fight the ordinance in court.
Councilwoman Cohen helped pass a similar measure as a state legislator in 2007. That legislation placed a $5 fee on “sexual-oriented businesses” with the proceeds going to help victims of sexual abuse around the state. That fee is still on the books.
The new fee will be implemented within the next two weeks, Cohen said.