Southland senator Hutchinson moved to tears on strip club tax
By Susan DeMar Lafferty firstname.lastname@example.org June 1, 2012 11:20PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 11:07AM
As the Legislature voted overwhelmingly last week in favor of a tax on strip clubs to help victims of sexual assault, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), who sponsored the bill, was moved to tears.
The bill she fought so hard for was approved 53-0 by her Senate colleagues and 92-23 in the House.
“It was the first time I teared up on the floor,” she said.
The new state law imposes an annual surcharge on each operator of a live adult-entertainment business that serves or permits the consumption of alcohol. The business can charge a $3-per-person admission tax or pay a percentage of its annual gross revenue. The latter method may be less burdensome for owners because they now report those numbers to the state, Hutchinson said.
Strip clubs grossing $2 million or more per year would pay a $25,000 tax, those taking in $500,000 to $2 million would pay $15,000 and those collecting less than $500,000 would pay a $5,000 tax.
Hutchinson said she was willing to compromise and reduce her initial request for a $5-per-person surcharge.
“I was not trying to shut (these businesses) down,” she said, adding that the club owners whom she met with negotiated in good faith. “They were very good about acknowledging the intent of where the money was going.”
Club owners in the Southland could not be reached for comment on the new tax.
Hutchinson said all revenue from the tax would go toward counseling victims of sexual assault and increasing awareness of the crime.
“We spend more on the perpetrators than the victims,” she said, referring to a lack of state funding for such agencies.
The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault assisted more than 18,000 survivors of sexual assault, abuse and harassment during 2011.
With about 100 strip clubs in Illinois, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, an advocate of the tax, estimated that it would generate from $6 million and $12 million annually.
The Illinois law was modeled after one in Texas that levies a tax of $5 per person and that survived a state legal challenge.
State Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) was one of three House members voting “present.” He said his issue with the bill was that it unfairly targets one type of business.
“There are no statistics to prove that adult entertainment is responsible for sexual assault and rape,” DeLuca said.
He said the new law, which he described as “overreaching and intrusive,” also would mean less revenue for poorer towns because a “disproportionate share of (strip clubs) are in economically depressed communities. It is easier to get licenses (there) because those towns are looking to generate more revenue.”