SACRAMENTO - Assemblymember Alberto Torrico's (D-Fremont) porn tax bill, AB 1082, has been pulled from the legislative calendar just one day before it was to go before the Assembly Committee on Health. The bill would have levied a 12% tax on all adult-related products sold in the state of California.
"When I arrived in my office this morning, I received a call from our California Lobbyist Ignacio Hernandez, letting us know that the bill to impose an additional tax on adult products and services had been dropped," said FSC Executive Director Diane Duke. "We lobbied extensively on this bill both at our Lobby Days in March and through Ignacio's work behind the scenes. Clearly the hard work paid off."
The alleged purpose of the tax was to provide revenue for a newly-established "Domestic Violence Prevention Fund," which would be used for monitoring of domestic violence and stalking parolees through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Under a companion bill introduced by Torrico, AB 1081, offenders would be fitted with electronic monitoring devices, paid for by 1082's receipts, which would continuously send the offender's location to a central monitoring computer so that potential victims could be warned if the offender came within a certain distance of their residences.
Of course, no data was included with the bill linking the sale of adult products to domestic violence, and so it is likely that if the bill had become law - it would have required a two-thirds vote of each house - it likely would have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts. Moreover, since the tax was on materials considered to be "harmful matter" for minors, it not only would have included adult DVDs, magazines and toys, but also many mainstream movies and books, to the point where it likely would also have been found to be unconstitutionally vague.
Also, the Assembly Committee on Health, in preparation for its hearing, had an analysis of the bill prepared by analyst Allegra Kim, who found several problems with the bill.
"The relationship between an individual's consumption of harmful matter and violent offending appears to be less clear," she wrote. "Numerous studies have failed to establish a causal link between the use of harmful matter and violence against women, though other studies do show a relationship, especially between harmful matter which portrays deviant sexual behavior and sexual offending among high-risk offenders."
Kim noted that the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill as well, and suggested that the committee consider the policy question, "Does this bill represent an unconstitutional infringement of freedom of expression?" She stated that, "Numerous states have recently attempted to tax harmful matter or adult entertainment, but First Amendment concerns have often stalled these efforts."
The bill had no record of organizations or individuals coming out in support of the legislation.
All of these points were driven home to the more than 55 legislators and their staffs on March 10 during Free Speech Coalition's Celebrate Free Speech Lobbying Days , where 24 adult industry members and supporters made the rounds of legislative offices to discuss AB 1082's shortcomings.