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Hot Number Jumps Aboard: Calderon Gaining Support for His Porn Tax Bill

SACRAMENTO – A Valley lawmaker wants to tax the porn industry to help fund statewide law enforcement efforts.

Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston, [pictured] has signed on as a chief co-sponsor to legislation championed by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Montebello.

The bill, which Calderon says could raise as much as $665 million in tax revenue each year off the $4 billion-a-year porn industry, was heard in Calderon’s Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on Monday afternoon.

On the Web
Read the analysis of the porn tax proposal, AB2914, at www.leginfo.ca.gov.
Calderon has tried to pass this measure before without success. But interest in the tax is building, thanks to a growing California budget deficit that could reach $20 billion. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will announce just how deep the hole is Wednesday when he reveals his revised budget.

Galgiani appeared with Calderon, law enforcement and medical officials, a former stripper and an ex-porn star at a news conference Monday morning to urge support for the bill.

Shelley Lubben, an ex-porn star who now campaigns against the industry with the group Pink Cross, said a tax is justified because of the ill effects porn has on performers and consumers. Everything from addiction to drugs or sex itself, assault, disease, rape and prostitution can be counted as side effects of the industry, she said.

Galgiani and Calderon likened the tax to existing “sin taxes” on alcohol and tobacco. They say the cash raised from taxes on strip club fees, pornographic movies, pay-per-view films, sex toys and the like could be used for anything related to education, law enforcement, health care and social services – generally anything paid for from the state’s general fund.

“It essentially creates a slush fund,” said Matt Gray of the Free Speech Coalition.

Those in the industry argue that taxing them over and above the sales and corporate taxes they already pay would force them to move to Nevada or some other state. Industry officials and performers testified that the negative effects against their business are overblown.

It also is possible that the legislation is unconstitutional. Legal opinion on taxation based on content is mixed.

Galgiani’s specific interest is finding new sources of funding for law enforcement.

A California Senate panel led by state Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden, axed state support for a series of rural law enforcement programs Thursday. Machado said the state is not required to fund those programs and no longer can afford to.

Galgiani says the porn tax could provide that funding.

“These are funds that have always been at risk,” Galgiani said. “This bill ensures that we can keep those funds in place.”

Galgiani said it’s tough enough to preserve funding for law enforcement activities, let alone expand efforts to fight identity theft or online crime. “I want to expand things like that,” she said. “There’s just no money to do that.”

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