Lawmakers Won't Legalize Las Vegas Prostitution

State lawmakers have decided not to take up the question of whether to expand and tax legalized prostitution in Nevada's biggest cities, officials on both sides of the issue said.

"The question was broached, in these hard economic times, whether the city of Las Vegas should have legal houses of prostitution," said Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

"We already have a full plate," he said.

Nevada Brothel Owners Association chief George Flint said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, informed him that the issue won't be considered.

Support from the leader of the majority party in the Legislature is crucial to move the issue forward.

But Buckley said she does not support legalizing prostitution.

"I'm disappointed," said Flint, who called the brothel industry the only major industry in the state that doesn't pay taxes.

"I felt they at least would look at the merits of the issue," he said. "I've seen legal and regulated, and illegal and unregulated. The first is better."

State law currently allows legalized prostitution only in rural counties. It is banned in counties with 400,000 residents, which means Clark and Washoe counties.

Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Senate Taxation Committee, said last month that he was willing to hold a hearing on proposals to legalize and regulate prostitution in Las Vegas and Nevada's other urban areas.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who insisted he was not calling for legalization of prostitution in his city, said he welcomed discussion of the topic.