Strip club tax could fund rape crisis centers
JACKSON COUNTY, Ill. — Strip club owners in Illinois could have to shell out more cash to the state if a proposed bill becomes law. Chicago-area Senator Toi Hutchinson filed the measure in Springfield earlier in February.
If it passes, the state would charge club owners an extra $5 for every customer that walks through their doors. That money would then go into a fund to support sexual assault resource centers.
"We've already eliminated two and a half staff positions," said Cathy McClanahan, executive director of The Women's Center in Carbondale.
McClanahan said the agency has been forced to slash its budget for the past three years. State funds are disappearing.
"That just directly affects the number of clients that we can see," said Megan Jones-Williams, coordinator of sexual assault programs at the agency.
The Women's Center provides resources like counseling and emergency room support to victims of sexual assault.
McClanahan said the proposed law, to tax adult club owners, could be the answer.
"We need our services. And if that's where the money is going to come from, so we can continue to serve victims, then that's what we're going to have to do," said McClanahan.
Coordinator Megan Jones-Williams said the tax is justified.
"Sexually-oriented businesses are contributing to the environment that allows violence against women to occur," she said.
Some in charge of local adult venues don't agree.
Local 6 spoke with the owner of JB's Place, a club outside Desoto, Illinois. The owner did not want to speak with us on camera but he did say he believes the proposed bill is unfair and targets his patrons.
He said he runs a safe club, donates to the community and pays his fair share of taxes.
"Every day we provide services for women who have been assaulted, who have been abused, who have been harassed," said Jones-Williams.
Those at The Women's Center vow to fight for this law because it may be the only way to stay open.
"At this point, there is nothing left to cut," said McClanahan.
Texas enacted a similar measure back in 2007.
That state's Supreme Court heard arguments on it last year and upheld the fee.