Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited The Women's Center in Carbondale Friday to advocate for legislation that would restore funding to sexual assault prevention agencies. The legislation would require all strip clubs that permit alcohol to pay a $5-per-patron fee.
According to the Lt. Governor's office, the funds would then be distributed to community-based sexual assault prevention and response organizations, such as The Women's Center. Simon says the organization was forced to cut staff by 10-percent last year as state funding decreased by almost $136,000.
"The need for sexual assault prevention services is consistent, even when state funding is not," said Simon, a former Jackson County prosecutor and founder of the Southern Illinois University School of Law's domestic violence legal clinic. "Senate Bill 3348 is a responsible way to restore funding to agencies and protect jobs. Communities statewide depend on their services to protect women, educate children, and train law enforcement agencies."
According to Simon's office, The Women's Center, Inc. provided free and confidential services to more than 1,218 adult and child survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in Jackson, Williamson, Franklin, Perry, Union, Johnson and Saline counties in fiscal year 2011.
The Lt. Gov. says the center was one of the country's first domestic violence centers.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) with bipartisan co-sponsorship, has received support from more than 30 rape crisis centers, the President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Read testimony on SB 3348 from Finney, McCleary and Simon here.