Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (D) visited a Rockford crisis center Friday morning, March 9, to advocate for legislation that would restore funding to sexual assault prevention agencies.
Simon said Senate Bill 3348, which passed out of committee earlier this week, would require all live adult entertainment facilities that permit alcohol consumption to pay a $5-per-patron fee. The funds would be distributed to community-based sexual assault prevention and response organizations, such as the Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, Inc., which has been forced to cut jobs as state funding decreased by $60,000 in recent years.
“We need to keep the doors open and people working at crisis centers in Rockford and across the state,” said Simon, a former Jackson County prosecutor and founder of the Southern Illinois University School of Law’s domestic violence legal clinic. “Senate Bill 3348 is a responsible way to restore funding to agencies that provide critical services to women, educate our children, and train law enforcement agencies.”
Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, Inc., provided free crisis intervention and counseling services to more than 1,000 adult and child survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse in Winnebago, Boone and Ogle counties last year. The center reaches about 15,000 students and community members annually through prevention education training, in addition to providing professional training to health centers and law enforcement agencies in the tri-county area.
Maureen Mostacci, Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, Inc., executive director, said: “We are stretched as far as we can stretch. Our clientele is increasing about 10 percent each year, while our state funding and our staff levels are going down. Senate Bill 3348 would provide a reliable funding source that will allow us to continue helping women and families.”
The legislation has received support from dozens of rape crisis centers; the Illinois Department of Human Services; R.T. Finney, president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police; and Dr. Richard McCleary, a University of California-Irvine professor and leading adult entertainment business researcher.
Last year, the Texas Supreme Court upheld legislation that funded crisis centers through a $5 entrance fee at strip clubs that permit alcohol. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge of that decision, effectively opening the door for other cities and states to purse similar measures. California is among the states seeking legislation; it is considering a $10-per-patron fee.
From the March 14-20, 2012, issue