Strip Club Tax? Illinois Considers Adding Per-Customer Fine To Fund Women's Crisis Centers

02/16/2012 11:14 am ET | Updated Feb 16, 2012

Walking through the door of a strip club in Illinois is about to get a little more expensive if state Sen. Toi Hutchinson gets her way.

The Olympia Fields, Ill. Democrat filed a motion in Springfield earlier this month that would add an extra $5 tax per customer at strip clubs across the state, WPSD Local reports. Hutchinson proposes the money be used to support under-funded sexual assault resource centers, like The Women's Center in Carbondale, whose budgets have been slashed as state funds disappear.

“If you're going to sell sex and alcohol, then bad things sometimes happen," Hutchinson told the Quincy Journal, adding that she has nothing against strip clubs and topless bars. "I'm hopeful they'll work with me to take some of the stink off their name."

Club owners have come down hard against the tax, which they say could put smaller establishments out of business, turning out their large staffs that include dancers, bartenders, valet attendants and bouncers at a time when job insecurity is high, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"I think $5 is an absolute industry killer," Chicago club lobbyist Al Ronan, a former lawmaker, told the Tribune. "At some point, we're going to try to come in with an alternative plan...We're not out to kill it. We're out to do it right."

A nearly identical tax imposed in Texas in 2007 cleared a test of constitutionality in August after club owners challenged it as a violation of the First Amendment. Attorney James Ho called the ruling "a big win for victims of sexual assault."

This isn't the first time a Illinois has considered a tax on adult products and services. Former House Speaker Lee Daniels, (R-Elmhurst) proposed a tax on pornographic magazines to raise money for schools in 1997, according to the Pantagraph. But the measure went nowhere.

Coordinator Megan Jones-Williams told WPSD funding women's crisis center services with a tax from strip clubs makes sense.

"Sexually-oriented businesses are contributing to the environment that allows violence against women to occur," she told the station.

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