CARSON CITY, Nevada (AP) _ Nevada, home to Las Vegas, taxes people when they have a drink, catch a show or buy cigarettes _ and of course, at the casino. Now some lawmakers say customers of the western state's legal brothels should be taxed as well.
The state has not collected a dollar in taxes from prostitution since it was legalized in rural counties more than 30 years ago, and it appears doubtful that it will anytime soon.
A bill that would levy a $5 tax on sex acts appears to have no chance in Nevada's Legislature, even though the state is facing a more than $2.8 billion revenue shortfall.
``I don't know why people won't recognize that we have a legal industry,'' said state Sen. Bob Coffin, who is pushing for a tax on the world's oldest profession. ``I'm willing to go in and do the dirty work if no one else will.''
Coffin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Taxation Committee, said the state is desperate for revenue and he ``will go anywhere'' to find it, including the state's 25 legal brothels.
Ten Nevada counties that authorize prostitution by local ordinance are the only places in the United States that allow brothels. Prostitution is outlawed in five Nevada counties, including the two encompassing its biggest cities, Las Vegas and Reno.
The Nevada Brothel Owners Association supports the tax, which Coffin estimated would raise at least $2 million a year. Part of the money would fund a counseling agency for sex workers.
``The bottom line is that the Chicken Ranch is a legal business,'' said Bob Fisher, a spokesman for the brothel. ``Why should we be looked at any differently or not be given the same respect as any other business?''
Nevadans pioneered legalized gambling, prize fights and quickie divorces, and for the most part tolerated prostitution even before their state joined the union in 1864. But a long state history of going against the grain isn't likely to be enough to advance Coffin's proposal for complicated, contradictory reasons: appearances, political ambition, women's rights, morality _ even prudishness in a state where you'd least expect it.
A survey by The Associated Press of the seven Senate Taxation Committee members indicates Coffin's bill will likely be at least one vote short of