SEATTLE - Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-Federal Way) gave it his best shot, but his proposal to tax adult entertainment products and services to fund unemployment and welfare benefits is dead - mainly because it's too complicated.
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), chair of the state House Finance Committee, had originally said he'd give a hearing to House Bill 2103, "AN ACT Relating to the taxation of adult entertainment materials and services," but thought better of it after remembering that the state had previously signed onto the 2002 Streamline Sales and Use Tax Agreement, whose "fundamental purpose" is to "simplify and modernize sales and use tax administration in the member states in order to substantially reduce the burden of tax compliance." Miloscia's porn tax bill, it seems, in attempting to put a tax on goods based on their content, wouldn't fly under the simplification agreement - and besides, a tax based on content is just unconstitutional.
Predictably, Miloscia didn't see it that way.
"We're in the crisis of a generation," he said. "I'm looking for all sources to try and find money for programs that I care about like GAU [General Assistance-Unemployable, a "safety-net" fund], and it's from an industry I think I wouldn't affect at all."
But for Hunter, taxing particular content is too great of a gray area. Referring to The Erotic Bakery in Wallingford, WA, which supplies breast- and penis-shaped cakes and the like for bachelor and bachelorette parties, "I don't think I'm going to do a differential sales tax on food because it has a large organ on it. I think it's important that the city has places like that. It makes your grandmother go, 'Ooohhhhhh!'"
But take heart, Washington: You've still got some loonies left.
Take, for instance, Kimberlie Struiksma, who's just offered an initiative for the November ballot, Measure No. 1040, which "concerns a supreme ruler of the universe."
"This measure would require state government not to use public funds or property for anything that denies or attempts to refute the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe," the initiative's abstract says, "including but not limited to appropriations for displays, textbooks, scientific endeavors, instruction, and research projects. The measure would provide that no person shall be questioned based on their personal values, beliefs, or opinions regarding the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe."
Readers may recall that during the 2008 Christmas season, some atheists dared to post a sign alongside some religious displays in the Capitol which read, "At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
Apparently that didn't sit too well with Struiksma, part of whose initiative says, "Respecting no establishment of religion, yet with respect to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, whose existence has been declared in the preamble to the Constitution of the state of Washington, the state shall make no appropriation for nor apply any public moneys or property in support of anything, specifically including, but not limited to, any display, exercise, instruction, textbook, scientific endeavor, circulated document, or research project which denies or attempts to refute the existence of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe."
And of course, the ban on supporting any non-God-affirming "exercise, instruction [or] textbook" should guarantee that the school districts' biology classes have nothing to teach evolution with, while the ban on "scientific endeavors" should have research scientists leaving the state in droves.
But as Biology Prof. P.Z. Myers notes, Struiksma only needs the signatures of 241,153 registered voters to get the initiative on the ballot, and "There aren't that many crazy stupid people in the state, are there? "