Decatur Herald & Review
February 18, 2012
By Kurt Erickson
SPRINGFIELD - Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is lending her support to a plan that would tax strip clubs to raise money for sexual abuse programs.
In a news conference Friday, the Carbondale Democrat said adult entertainment facilities that profit from the combination of nude dancing and alcohol sales should help pick up the tab for related social ills, such as rape, sexual assault, prostitution and other crimes.
"It is only fair to require the people who profit from the adult entertainment industry to finance those who provide advocacy and counseling services to the victims of sexual assault," said Simon, who founded the domestic violence legal clinic at the Southern Illinois University School of Law.
The measure would require strip clubs serving alcohol to pay a $5 tax per customer. Michael Ocelo, president of the Illinois Club Owners Association, which represents adult entertainment establishments, said the plan could force smaller facilities to close.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, said people should not make light of the proposal.
"They are calling it the ‘skin tax' and the ‘pole tax,' " Hutchinson said. "It is pretty easy to make jokes about."
But, Hutchinson said, "I'm trying to make sure that we keep the conversation framed where it's supposed to be. Violence against women is never appropriate."
"The fact that we're getting attention is a good thing," Simon added.
Hutchinson said she is open to negotiating the proposal in the coming months.
"The legislation I have introduced is still in its infancy and is by no means a final plan for how we can deal with this issue. I am looking forward to sitting down with the adult entertainment industry to discuss ways they can be a part of the solution to this problem," she said.
A similar tax was recently upheld in Texas.
The legislation is Senate Bill 3348.