Lest residents not be sufficiently grateful for their actions, Illinois politicians are trying to force retailers to post signs informing the public of some “tax relief” actions that were taken as part of the state’s new budget.
Legislation demands, on pain of being fined, that gas stations post stickers on pumps proclaiming that a gas tax increase that would have taken effect July 1 has been scrapped, according to The Center Square.
The Illinois gas tax had been expected to increase about 2.2 cents per gallon. The state suspended the increase for six months in a year when all the seats in the Democrat-dominated legislature are up for grabs. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is also facing re-election.
Scot Bertram of Hillsdale College said the provision was included in a budget passed around 3 a.m. Saturday.
At around 3am Saturday morning, Illinois Democrats passed a budget that includes provisions that force private businesses, under penalty of large fines, to take part in free election-year advertising for the Governor and his party. pic.twitter.com/S6FPRZloLw
— Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) April 10, 2022
The stickers are required to say, “As of July 1, 2022, the State of Illinois has suspended the inflation adjustment to the motor fuel tax through December 31, 2022. The price on this pump should reflect the suspension of the tax increase.”
Anyone not posting the sticker could be fined $500 a day. That comes to $65,000 if a holdout refuses to post a sticker between now and Election Day in November, the report said.
Republican state Rep. Mark Batinick said the burdensome gas tax undercuts any gratitude that residents might feel.
“So is the sticker going to say, ‘Hey, gas is 50 cents more a gallon over here across the border or across the river, it would have been 52.2 cents more, but here’s a sticker to say it’s only 50 cents more’?” Batinick said, according to the Center Square.
Josh Sharp of the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association said the sticker demand is unconstitutional.
“This industry won’t be forced into offering free election-year advertising for the Governor,” Sharp said in a statement.
“Ordering businesses to take part in speech that is compelled by the government under the threat of fines and criminal penalties is unwise and unconstitutional,” he said.
Sharp said he expected retailers would sue rather than submit to the state.
In 2019, Illinois’ gas tax was doubled, with the provision of an inflationary increase after that. It was that increase that the legislators put on hold.
Grocery stores also have to proclaim the wonders of state government under the legislation, the Center Square reported.
Stores would be required to print on receipts “to the extent feasible” that the state suspended the 1 percent grocery tax for a year.
The required message reads, “From July 1, 2022, through July 1, 2023, the State of Illinois sales tax on groceries is 0%.”
Bigger notice is welcome as an alternative, according to the report.
The legislation said that “if it is not feasible for the retailer to include the statement on any cash register tape, receipt, invoice, or sales ticket issued to customers, then the retailer shall post the statement on a sign that is clearly visible to customers.
“The sign shall be no smaller than 4 inches by 8 inches.”
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