Strip club bill offers two options for clubs to help restore funding to rape crisis centers

Online Staff Report

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — With bipartisan support and agreement from victim advocates and the adult entertainment industry, strip clubs that permit alcohol would have two options to help restore funding to rape crisis centers under a bill passed 8-0 by the Senate Public Health Committee, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon said May 16.

Strip club owners would choose to pay the state a $3-per-patron surcharge on an annual basis, or opt to pay a flat fee based on the taxable receipts they report to the Illinois Department of Revenue each year, under House Bill 1645 Amendment 3.

Clubs that report taxable receipts of $2 million or more would pay $25,000 a year; clubs that report total receipts of $500,000 to $2 million would pay $15,000; and clubs that report total receipts of less than $500,000 would pay $5,000, according to the legislation.

The $3 surcharge and fee structure in House Bill 1645 Amendment 3 replaced the $5-per-patron entrance fee proposed in an earlier bill.

The new language was agreed to by rape crisis advocates, club owners and sponsor state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights). House Bill 1645 Amendment 3 now moves to the Senate for a vote.

I am pleased all the interested parties came to the table with Sen. Hutchinson and my office and agreed on a common-sense way to restore funding to rape crisis centers that have struggled to provide critical services to sexual assault survivors, school children and law enforcement agencies on ever-shrinking budgets,” Simon said.

Substantial evidence links the consumption of alcohol at strip clubs to negative secondary effects, including sexual harassment, sexual assault and prostitution. This legislation will address the social ills and protect free expression. Clubs that do not want to pay the surcharge or fee can choose to stop permitting alcohol,” Simon added.

The newly-generated revenue will go into the new Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Fund and be distributed by the Department of Human Services for community-based assistance to victims of sexual assault and sexual assault prevention. There are at least 32 rape crisis centers — 10 in the Chicago-metro region and 22 in the non-metro area. State funding for the centers has decreased about 28 percent in the past five years.

Last year, the Texas Supreme Court upheld legislation that funded crisis centers through a $5 entrance fee at strip clubs that permit alcohol based on the correlation between alcohol, live nude dancing and negative secondary effects, such as sexual assault.

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.

Simon, a longtime domestic violence and women’s advocate, first voiced her support for Hutchinson’s legislation in February and testified in support of the amended legislation May 16. She visited rape crisis centers across the state this spring to call for a budget-neutral way to restore state funding.

Posted May 16, 2012

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