Strip Club Booze Tax to Fund Rape Centers
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Strip clubs with liquor licenses would have to charge admission fees or pay more in taxes under a "skin tax" bill passed unanimously yesterday by the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee. The money raised under the measure sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson would fund rape crisis counseling centers. While it is not a law yet, the measure has the support of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who testified by saying: "Sexually-orientated businesses contribute to objectifying and exploiting women. There's been a strong, scientific recognition that when you associate those industries with alcohol, that there's a substantial effect there, an increase in crime, particularly sexual assault." If the bill were to pass, Illinois strip clubs that sell or allow alcohol would have two options: either pay a $3 per patron surcharge—likely be passed on to customers at the door—or pay a flat rate based on their taxable income. Clubs that don't serve alcohol would be exempt from the tax. Al Ronan, the Chicago lobbyist representing the clubs, argued that raising the tax would only hurt the economy. "We wholeheartedly support the need to fund these types of centers," he said. "[But] it's still a tax on businesses that pay a lot of taxes already." The strip clubs themselves stayed neutral on the legislation; the bill now goes to the state senate for a vote.