Quad City Times
March 6, 2012
By Kurt Erickson
SPRINGFIELD — A proposal to start charging an entrance tax on Illinois strip clubs limped out of a Senate committee Tuesday.
Although the measure is now positioned for a vote in the full Senate, senators raised concerns that it unfairly relies on downstate strip club patrons to generate revenue for rape crisis centers in Chicago.
“I think you’ve got a lot of work to do on this,” state Sen. Carole Pankau, R-Itasca, told supporters of the proposal.
“I think there has to be more of an in-depth review,” added state Sen. Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest.
The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, would require adult entertainment facilities that serve alcohol to collect a $5 fee from each patron. The money would be used to pay for rape hot lines and other sexual assault assistance organizations.
“Rape is an issue across the state of Illinois,” Hutchinson said.
Among those backing the plan is Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who said agencies that provide assistance to victims of rape and assault have seen their state funding chopped by 27 percent over the past five years.
“There is substantial evidence that sexually oriented businesses contribute to negative secondary effects such as sexual violence and that alcohol is a contributing factor,” Simon wrote in testimony submitted to the Senate Public Health Committee.
Mayors and police chiefs from Sauget, Centreville, Brooklyn and other Illinois communities that have strip clubs oppose the legislation, saying it could hurt the revenue that the facilities generate and lead to layoffs.
“These workers need these jobs,” said Michael Ocello, executive director of the Illinois Club Owners Association.
Hutchinson agreed to continue to tinker with the proposal in hopes of finding more support for the plan.
The legislation is Senate Bill 3348.