Nevada legislators got an earful (and an eyeful) on Tuesday during a hearing about whether to tax prostitutes. The tax would be $5 per sex act and would raise more than $2 million per year for the state (I did the math on that one for you, it’s 400,000). Nevada has not collected any direct taxes from the industry since prostitution was made legal more than 30 years ago, though local governments have benefited through fees to the individual brothels.
Sen. Bob Coffin, who chairs the Senate Taxation Committee proposed the tax to help Nevada climb out of its current economic situation. Four of seven committee members oppose the measure. But Coffin got some surprising support at the hearing: prostitutes and brothel owners. Deanne “Air Force Amy” Salinger spoke in favor of the bill, saying “If $5 per person can raise $2 million a year, I’m all for it.”
In response to his critics who have labeled the tax as “blood money” derived from “paid rape,” Coffin said, “Can we be so proud as to refuse money that is offered, that can be levied on a legal business?” Seizing on the legitimacy issue, Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch agreed, saying that brothels were “looking for respectability and acceptability.”
However, Sister Diane Maguire of the Sisters of the Holy Family in Las Vegas disagreed, noting that the bill “normalizes prostitution and makes it seem like it’s a legitimate occupation.”
Yep, a hearing full of nuns and hookers. There’s a joke in there somewhere.
Despite the flurry of interest in the bill, largely driven by the relative “celebrity” of many of the prostitutes who have recently appeared on a number of HBO productions, it’s likely to go nowhere. Politicians don’t want to be seen as supportive of prostitution in the state, which, while legal, is still considered immoral… like, oh say, cigarettes and alcohol, both of which are legal and taxed?