Dave Dahl, Illinois Capitol Bureau

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) – A retooled proposal to get Illinois strip clubs to fill a budget gap has passed a Senate committee.

What started as a $5-a-head surcharge now gives adult entertainment clubs an annual payment of the club’s choice: $3 a patron or a fixed amount depending on revenue. That amount would be $5,000, $15,000, or $25,000 if the revenue is, respectively, less than $500,000, between $500,000 and $2 million, and more than $2 million.

The money would shore up funding for rape crisis centers. Advocates of the bill, sponsored by State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), say there’s a connection between the consumption of alcohol at strip clubs and such problems as sexual assault.

If strip clubs objectify women, what’s the difference if customers are drinking alcohol or not? Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon says the research only supports the argument that the trouble occurs when alcohol is involved. Hutchinson says live nude dancing is constitutionally protected free speech, anyway.

The bill now exempts clubs where liquor is not served.

HB 1645 has passed the Senate Public Health Committee.

Copyright IRN

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