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Nevada Keeps Strip Club Kick Back System in Place

From The Movable Buffet: Say you are in Las Vegas and you decide to hop into a taxi on the Strip with some friends and go to a topless bar. You pay your cab fare, you (being good guys) tip the taxi driver. Then you and your friends all shell out the $20 cover each to get into the topless bar and the waitress tells you right off there is a two drink minimum. And, hey, you haven’t even seen a dancer yet. So, who is the big winner here? The taxi driver, of course! That cover charge just begins to help the club pay for your cab with the profits on your two drink minimum likely covering the rest.

What, you seem to think you paid for the cab? Ha. Your money was nothing. In addition to getting paid and tipped by you,the topless bar is probably paying the driver up to $70 a head for each person delivered to their door. Three friends in a cab means $210 for the driver. Ever wonder why in Vegas your taxi driver always has an opinion about what topless club you should go to? How can this sort of kickback be legal? Well, in a brief shining moment of integrity back in 2005 the Assembly passed a bill to outlaw this rip off practice. Of course, it was a mistake. That vote I mean. The Governor vetoed the bill to stop the provision. Yesterday the Assembly upheld the Governor’s veto 42-0. And, showing a profile of courage, that’s right, even the original sponsor of the ban, Majority Leader John Oceguera has changed his mind.

From the Las Vegas-Review Journal: CARSON CITY — Taxicab drivers can continue to legally accept tips for bringing customers to strip clubs and other businesses, the Assembly voted Thursday.

The Assembly voted 42-0 Thursday to support Gov. Kenny Guinn’s veto of a bill passed in 2005 that would have banned acceptance of the tips.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said legislators did not intend to harm cabdrivers two years ago when they unanimously approved Assembly Bill 505.

The bill dealt with truck regulations and whether the Transportation Services Authority should continue to have control over transportation companies, he said.

A little-noticed amendment was tacked on the bill at the end of the 2005 Legislature when it went to a conference committee.

The amendment would have blocked any business licensed by a city or county from paying cabdrivers for bringing customers to their businesses.

“This is an example of a good bill being made bad,” said Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas.

Oceguera, author of the controversial amendment, voted to support the veto.

At the time, Oceguera said he introduced the amendment at the request of businesses who did not want to pay cabbies for bringing customers to their doors. Oceguera said the businesses felt the tips were a form of extortion or kickbacks.

Guinn vetoed the bill on June 14, 2005. The Legislature had adjourned and could not consider sustaining or overriding the veto until the 2007 session.

“Taxicab drivers contribute greatly to the economy of this state,” Guinn wrote in his veto message.

He added that the bill was unfair because “it singles out and hurts the financial well-being of taxicab drivers.”

Hundreds of cabbies protested the bill that month by driving slowly — and sometimes stopping — along the Strip.

Many said they depended on the tips routinely doled out by some strip clubs, massage parlors and other businesses. They were also upset because the ban would not have applied to limo drivers, bellhops and other tip collectors.

After the vote, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said legislative leaders have agreed on new rules for conference committees to prevent legislators from being caught unaware when late changes are made to bills.

She said information detailing what changes have been made to bills by conference committees will be placed on the Legislature’s Web site and on bulletin boards in the Legislative Building.

“It will prevent something like this from happening again,” Buckley said. “Someone was well meaning, trying to stop extortion or kickbacks, but there is more to the story.”

In his veto message, Guinn mentioned that he objected because cabdrivers had not had an opportunity to testify on the tip amendment before the bill was approved at the end of the 2005 Legislature.


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