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Strip club tax could benefit Illinois rape crisis centers

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SPRINGFIELD — A revamped plan to tax Illinois strip clubs danced its way out of the Senate Public Health Committee on Wednesday.

By Stephanie Fryer

SPRINGFIELD — A revamped plan to tax Illinois strip clubs danced its way out of the Senate Public Health Committee on Wednesday.

The revised legislation would require owners of strip clubs that serve alcohol or allow alcohol consumption to pay either a $3 fee per visitor, or a flat fee based on the establishment's tax revenue.

The old version gave club owners a single option of paying a $5 per patron flat fee .

"This is a product of pretty intense negotiations," bill sponsor state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, said. "We have done our best to address every concern."

Fee amounts would follow a tiered scale. Operators reporting taxable receipts totaling more than $2 million would pay a $25,000 flat fee; those earning between $500,000 and $2 million would pay $15,000; and any club earning less than $500,000 would pay $5,000.

Hutchinson said both options could benefit club owners. She gave the example that smaller clubs with fewer customers may not reach the $5,000 limit, and would spend less paying for each visitor. It's the opposite situation in a larger club, where owners would benefit from paying the flat rate fee.

The measure is set to generate $1 million for the state. Money raised would help fund sexual assault assistance programs and rape crisis centers.

"Sexually-orientated businesses contribute to objectifying and exploiting women," Lt. Gov. Shelia Simon said. "The research has shown that a combination of live nude dancing and alcohol is a particularly dangerous one for areas in which these clubs are."

The proposal would not affect clubs where alcohol is prohibited.

Senate Bill 3348 passed committee in an 8-0 vote. The latest version heads to the Senate floor.

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