SPRINGFIELD -- A revised plan to tax adult clubs to benefit rape crisis centers sailed out of an Illinois Senate committee Wednesday.

SPRINGFIELD -- A revised plan to tax adult clubs to benefit rape crisis centers sailed out of an Illinois Senate committee Wednesday.


Under the new version of Senate Bill 3348, clubs that feature nude dancing and sell liquor would have to pay either $3 per customer or a flat annual fee based on gross sales.  The annual fees would range from $5,000 to $25,000.


The new fee structure is expected to produce about $1 million a year, which would be distributed to Illinois rape crisis centers. Unlike a previous version, the new plan does not face opposition from club owners.


“This is a product of pretty intense negotiations,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, the sponsor.  “We have done our best to address every concern.”


The earlier version of the bill called for a $5 fee for each customer at strip clubs that either sold alcohol or allowed patrons to consume their own alcohol.  Adult clubs like Deja vu in Springfield that do not allow alcohol consumption on the premises would not be affected.


Club owners said the original bill would have forced many smaller clubs out of business.  Representatives of the clubs said Wednesday they are neutral on the latest proposal.


“We felt the original bill put a burden on the industry to come up with a solution” to budget cuts aimed at crisis centers,” said Al Ronen of the Illinois Club Owners Association. 


Rape crisis centers and sexual abuse prevention programs have suffered from $1.5 million in budget cuts.  Ronen said the original bill would have raised about $5 million. He estimated that 75 clubs in Illinois would be affected by the tax.


Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon testified in favor of the legislation.


“There is strong scientific recognition that when you associate these industries with alcohol, there’s a substantial effect there, an increase in crime, particularly sexual assault,” Simon said.


Although the new fee structure will generate less money than the original proposal, Simon said it is expected to restore about two-thirds of the state funding that’s been cut in recent years from rape crisis centers.


“It would be a significant and stable source of funding for them,” Simon said.


The bill now goes to the full Senate.


Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527.