Calif. Porn Tax Dropped From Calendar but Still Alive

Apr 21, 2009 12:30 PM PST
SACRAMENTO — The measure that would create a 12-percent excise tax on all tangible adult entertainment products in California has been dropped for the legislative season but still is alive.

Assembly Bill 1082 is slated as a two-year bill and will be brought back in August when the Legislature reconvenes after summer recess, according to Allegra Kim, a legislative analyst for state Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, who sponsored the measure.

But for the time being, Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke is elated.

“We’re thrilled,” Duke told XBIZ. “We dodged another one, but there always are those who believe in the absurdity of a bill like this one. I think there always will be those who want to abridge the industry’s free-speech rights.”

Duke was referring to the year-in, year-out battle the FSC faces with the numerous attempts to tax adult products throughout the union.

The FSC, in its official statement to the Legislature, said AB 1082 "creates a misplaced and unconstitutional tax and argues that individuals who commit crimes are required to pay restitution and other costs associated with their victims and this bill gives criminals a pass."

The FSC also said that "the state Board of Equalization (BOE), in analyzing a similar bill, concluded that BOE would be required to review the content of each magazine and movie to determine which items should be taxed, rendering the tax proposed in this bill costly and unworkable."

FSC was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said that "the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that a tax on First Amendment protected speech will not withstand constitutional scrutiny and that the tax imposed by this bill is an unconstitutional, content-based regulation on speech that impermissibly burdens vast amounts of protected expression."

With AB 1082, the measure would expand Proposition 83 — the 2006 voter-approved measure requiring that sex offenders wear GPS devices for the rest of their lives — to apply to parolees convicted before the proposition took effect, as well as to domestic violence parolees.

Forty percent of gross receipts would be earmarked for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Prevention Fund, while 60 percent would be tagged for the Domestic Abuser Surveillance Fund.

Jeff Barbosa, a Torrico spokesman, told XBIZ that the 12 percent figure wasn't just figured out of the blue.

"It was the percentage we thought would fund the GPS and domestic violence prevention programs included in [another related bill,] AB 1081," he said.

The bill, which will be brought back to committee in August, would need a two-third’s majority of each house of the Legislature to reach the governor’s office for his approval or veto.

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