Several adult entertainment clubs could soon sue the state over a new sex trafficking law.

Gov. Deal signed the legislation yesterday. It could lead to strip clubs having to pay $5,000 a year or one percent of their annual profits a fund to help victims of sex trafficking. But that part of the legislation still needs voter approval.

Now that the sex trafficking bill has been signed, attorney Alan Begner says one thing is for sure: “You can certainly guarantee the law will be challenged.”

Alan Begner
Alan Begner, attorney for many of Atlant’as strip clubs, talks to WABE’s Denis O’Hayer about a proposed bill that would affect the clubs. (Photo/Brenna Beech;

But Begner says he doesn’t know when or how many clubs will take the matter to court. Over the years, he’s represented about two-thirds of the nude dancing clubs in the Atlanta area. Begner says one of the main arguments will be over free speech.

“Nude dancing is protected under the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions and speech cannot be taxed,” says Begner.

He says there’s no link between adult entertainment clubs and sex trafficking or victims of child prostitution.

But Senator Renee Unterman says she believes they contribute to both and deserve to be taxed.

“Anytime you have a community that starts going downhill, it’s typically in these areas, and those establishments never do anything to help clean up the neighborhoods,” says Unterman.

Voters will decide on whether strip clubs should be required to pay into the fund in November of next year. Attorney General Sam Olens has said his office is prepared to defend the law if needed.

Besides creating the framework for the constitutional amendment Georgia residents will vote on next year, the law extends the statute of limitations for child sex trafficking victims from the age of 23 to the age of 25 for actions committed after June 30. It also sets up a fund, which is supposed to provide counseling, housing and other services for victims of child sex trafficking.