Ill. Senate considers ‘pole tax’ on adult clubs

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Patrons of adult clubs that sell alcohol or allow customers to bring their own onto the premises would have to pay a $5 tax on top of entrance fees under a measure introduced in the Illinois Senate. The tax would support a fund to prevent rape.

The Adult Entertainment Facility Tax Act, introduced Feb. 7 by state Sen. Toi W. Hutchinson, provides that a “tax is imposed upon each operator who operates a live adult entertainment facility in this State that serves or permits the consumption of alcohol on its premises. The amount of this tax under this Act is an amount equal to $5 for each entry by each customer admitted into the live adult entertainment facility.”

The adult businesses presumably would pass that cost on to their patrons.

The justification for the measure is the secondary-effects doctrine, a tool first used by the U.S. Supreme Court in Young v. American Mini Theatres (1976), which involved the zoning of adult businesses in Detroit. The secondary-effects doctrine holds that adult businesses cause harmful, secondary effects such as increased crime and decreased property values. The Supreme Court has said that when government officials properly rely on the secondary-effects doctrine, they are not suppressing speech but addressing these adverse effects.

The findings in the Illinois bill say that “the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of sexually oriented businesses exacerbates the negative secondary effects of those businesses on the community.” One of these effects, the bill suggests, is rape. The bill would require creation of a “sexual assault prevention fund” that the tax funds would support.

At a press conference, Hutchinson said the bill’s purpose was to prevent violence against women. “We’re about protecting lives,” she said, asserting that the combination of alcohol and “selling sex” often leads to sexual assaults on women.

On Feb. 17 the measure, Illinois Senate Bill 3348, was referred to the Revenue Committee, where a hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23.

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