Illinois Governor Approves Strip Club 'Skin Tax' to Fund Rape Crisis Centers


"Women can be objectified in many settings, from the workplace to the street," Frank told ABC News after the Illinois bill was first proposed.

Poskin said the coalition explored the idea two years ago to help women in rape crisis centers but the "timing wasn't right." She said the group had waited to see how the state of Texas responded to a similar tax.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a $5 "pole tax" law in 2007, which also collects $5 from alcohol-serving strip clubs for each customer who enters the club in order to fund sexual assault prevention programs. A strip club owner in Texas and the Texas Entertainment Association sued the state attorney general and comptroller over the tax, saying it restricted free speech. But the Texas Supreme Court ruled in August 2011 ruled that the fee was constitutional and was only a "minimal restriction."

Texas has already raised millions since the law was enacted and state lawmakers estimate it will bring in about $44 million.

In late June, the Houston city council proposed a similar $5 tax to help pay for rape testing kits for victims.

Hutchinson said what was most moving to her was that the conversation about the tax remained elevated.

"In Illinois, where we spend more money on perpetrators of sexual assault than the victims," she said. "I was proud of the fact that we were able to have a conversation that was difficult but necessary. I know a lot of these groups have had to close and cut off counselors. I think that needs to be the focus of what we're talking about. It's easy to make jokes but there is nothing about this that is funny."

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