MOLINE – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Month today by visiting a rape crisis center in Moline where she advocated for a new funding stream to protect services for sexual assault survivors and save jobs.
Simon is backing Senate Bill 3348, which would require all strip clubs that permit alcohol to pay a $5-per-patron fee. The revenue would help fund community-based sexual assault prevention and response programs, such as the one run by Family Resources in the Quad Cities.
Like other agencies statewide, the Rape/Sexual Assault Counseling and Advocacy Program of Family Resources has seen its state funding drop 28 percent since 2009 and staff decline, while demand for crisis and counseling services has increased.
“Whenever a sexual assault survivor calls for help in Moline, we need to know an advocate is ready to respond,” Simon said. “Budget cuts are putting these critical services and jobs at risk in the Quad Cities and statewide. That’s why I’m supporting a common sense way to fund rape crisis centers that will not affect most Illinoisans’ pocketbooks, but help many people receive the counseling and legal advocacy they need.”
The Family Resources program provides comprehensive services to victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault and their non-offending family members in Rock Island County and parts of Henry and Mercer counties.
The center provided services in the forms of counseling, advocacy, crisis response, prevention education and training to 30,000 individuals last year through the domestic violence and sexual assault services. In Illinois alone, the program responded to more than 300 crisis clients by phone or in-person and provided medical or legal advocacy to another 74 people.
“These services are vital to the health and well being of the Quad Cities community,” said Family Resource Director Nicole Cisne Durbin. “Sexual violence is a community issue, not just an issue for victims, survivors and social services. It affects everyone. The revenue raised from this proposed tax would allow our program to continue to provide these critical services to the community in a consistent manner without constant fear of losing more funds.”
Senate Bill 3348, sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), counts among its co-sponsors Sen. Tim Bivens, who served as the Lee County sheriff for 20 years and is a past president of the Illinois Sheriff's Association. R.T. Finney, president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, supports the bill as do more than 30 rape crisis centers and Dr. Richard McCleary, a University of California-Irvine professor and leading adult entertainment business researcher. Read testimony on SB 3348 from Finney, McCleary and Simon here.
Last year, the Texas Supreme Court upheld legislation that funded crisis centers through a $5 entrance fee at strip clubs that permit alcohol based on the correlation between alcohol, live nude dancing and negative secondary effects, such as sexual assault. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge of that decision, effectively opening the door for other cities and states to purse similar measures. California is among the states seeking legislation; it is considering a $10-per-patron fee.
Simon’s visit to the Quad Cities comes after stops at rape crisis centers in East St. Louis and Carbondale last week. Read Simon’s editorial on SB 3348 here.