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Senate OKs tax on strip clubs 

The Southern Illinoisan
May 25, 2012
By Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD — A stripped down version of a new tax on Illinois strip clubs advanced in the General Assembly on Thursday.

On a 53-0 vote, the Senate forwarded a proposal to the House that would raise an estimated $1 million to help finance rape crisis centers throughout the state.

The measure initially called for the clubs to charge $5 per patron with a goal of raising an estimated $6 million.

But, strip club operators were able to negotiate a lower fee, in which they can either charge $3 per patron or pay the state a flat fee based on the amount of revenue they generate.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, who sponsored the legislation and led more than four months of negotiations, said the tax would provide a “creative and stable” source of revenue for sexual assault treatment programs.

“This is a user fee,” Hutchinson said.

Supporters acknowledged some people had not taken the proposal serious when it was introduced.

“After all of the uncomfortable jokes and snickers, we must pass this important law,” said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.

“It is a serious issue,” added Republican state Sen. Tim Bivins, a former county sheriff from Dixon.

The measure also had the backing of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon because it would restore funding to an estimated 32 rape crisis centers in Illinois. State funding for the centers has decreased about 28 percent in the past five years.

The legislation is House Bill 1645.