Under a measure passed Tuesday by the Georgia House, strip clubs would have to pay a new $5,000 annual fee to help combat sex trafficking.
Rep. Tom Weldon, R-Ringgold, said it’s time to send a message.
“These are not legitimate businesses. These are strip joints,” said Weldon. “They are illegitimate and they need to pay for the problem and the cancer they have brought to each community in our society.”
Critics say lawmakers are unfairly singling out law-abiding businesses. Alan Begner, an attorney for several of those businesses, told WABE on Tuesday that there was no evidence linking strip clubs to child prostitution or trafficking. He said he’ll sue if the measure is passed into law.
Nevertheless, the House approved it 151-18. The Senate already passed the measure by a wide margin, but the House made revisions, so it heads back to the Senate for final approval.
If passed into law, voters still must approve the fee because it requires a change to the state constitution.
This year’s legislative session ends Thursday.