Prostitution tax gets red light

Sen. Bob Coffin's plan to help the state budget crisis by taxing acts of prostitution died in the Senate Taxation Committee on Thursday.

The vote was 3-4 on the motion to recommend passage of SB369, which would charge each patron $5 for use of the prostitute's services.

Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, and Coffin, D-Las Vegas, voted in favor of sending the measure to the Senate floor. Democrats Maggie Carlton and Terry Care of Las Vegas and Republicans Mike McGinness of Fallon and Randolph Townsend of Reno voted no, killing the measure.

Coffin said the plan would have generated about $4 million a year for the General Fund. It was proposed by George Flynt, lobbyist for Nevada's legal brothel industry.

"I'm not saying I support legalized prostitution in any way," said Schneider.

Along with the tax, the provisions in the bill creating an ombudsman for sex workers within the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabili-

tation died as well. That provision was key to Washington's support. There has been testimony that prostitutes working illegally are often abused by pimps.

Flynt has estimated the business serves more than 600,000 customers a year in some 30 legal brothels.

This isn't the first time Flynt has brought a plan to tax brothels to the Legislature. But Coffin pointed out it's the first time it came close to passing out of committee.


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