Online Staff Report
CHICAGO — Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (D) issued the following statement Aug. 18 regarding Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) signing of House Bill 1645, which will help fund rape crisis centers through fees based on strip club profits or admissions.
Simon said: “I thank Gov. Quinn for standing up for rape victims and crisis centers across the state. This new revenue stream will help offset cuts that threatened critical services. When a sexual assault victim goes to a police station or a survivor calls a hotline, we need trained staff ready to respond. This bill helps to keep lights on and doors open, jobs filled and responders trained.”
Under the law, strip club owners can choose to pay the state on an annual basis a $3 per patron fee or opt to pay a flat fee based on the taxable receipts they report to the Illinois Department of Revenue each year. Clubs that report taxable receipts of $2 million or more would pay $25,000 a year; clubs that report taxable receipts of $500,000 to $2 million would pay $15,000; and clubs that report taxable receipts of less than $500,000 would pay $5,000, according to the new law.
The law goes into effect January 2013 and applies only to strip clubs that serve or permit alcohol consumption. It is projected to raise up to $1 million per year, or roughly one-sixth of what the state spends on sexual assault prevention and response annually. In fiscal year 2011, rape crisis centers in Illinois served more than 18,000 clients and reached nearly 475,000 people with prevention education.
The $3 per patron surcharge and fee structure was a compromise reached by rape crisis advocates, club owners and sponsors state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights, and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago. The bill originally called for a $5 per patron entry fee.
“I would like to thank the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault as well as Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon for their constant and unwavering support for this new law,” Hutchinson said. “Victims of sexual assault must be able to access emergency services to fully recover from their traumatic experiences. I am hopeful the extra funding for sexual assault centers across Illinois will ensure no victim is turned away for care when they need it the most.”
The new 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. At least 32 rape crisis centers are serving Illinois residents — 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, forcing many centers to cut counselors and/or create waiting lists for counseling services while demand for services increased. One center closed its doors.
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 among 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 pursue similar measures.
Posted Aug. 20, 2012