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Illinois Strip Club Tax Signed Into Law: New Fee Funds Rape Crisis Centers

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In this Aug. 16, 2012 photo, an entertainer performs at the
In this Aug. 16, 2012 photo, an entertainer performs at the "Mons Venus" adult club in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

It officially just got slightly more pricey to set foot inside a strip club in Illinois.

On Saturday, Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new law that, as of Jan. 1, creates a new surcharge for strip clubs that offer live, nude dancing and serve alcohol, the Associated Press reports.

"This bill helps to keep lights on and doors open, jobs filled and responders trained," Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon said of the new law.

The measure was first proposed in February by state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) as a means to support under-funded sexual assault resource centers that have been impacted by state funding cuts.

"If you're going to sell sex and alcohol, then bad things sometimes happen, Hutchinson said earlier this year. "I'm hopeful they'll work with me to take some of the stink off their name."

Club owners weren't delighted by the tax as it was originally proposed -- particularly its $5-per-customer tax, which one owner called "an absolute industry killer" -- but they saw the provision signed into law Saturday as a suitable compromise, according to the AP.

The state Senate's Public Health Committee approved the bill in May and the proposal was sent to the governor's desk a few weeks later.

The law offers club owners a choice between charging a $3-per-customer tax or paying a fixed amount based on revenue of up to $25,000. The measure is expected to raise up to $1 million in funding for the state's rape crisis centers annually.

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."

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