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Another day, another lawsuit

Friday, May 20, 2022

* Press release…

The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association, representing Illinois gas stations and convenience stores, today announced it has officially filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court challenging a new state law requiring fuel retailers to post signs on gas pumps promoting temporary gas tax relief.

As part of a broader tax relief package included in the state budget that begins July 1, state lawmakers required fuel retailers to post signs – at their own expense – to tell motorists about the six-month suspension of the scheduled motor fuel tax increase scheduled for July 1.

Josh Sharp, CEO of the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association, said the new law violates his members’ constitutionally protected free speech rights.

“Government does not have the authority to compel private citizens to engage in political speech,” Sharp said. “If the Governor and lawmakers want to promote their political move to temporarily and slightly decrease the gas tax, they have many other ways to do that than to force our members to do it and pay for it ourselves.”

The complaint reads in part: “This specific amendment to the Motor Fuel Tax Law requires Plaintiffs and other retailers to choose between making a political statement they do not wish to make to their customers or the general public on behalf of the State of Illinois or facing criminal penalties. SB 157 violates Plaintiffs’ Free Speech rights as protected by Article 1, Section 4 of the Illinois Constitution, and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution by compelling political speech.”

Sharp also noted the onerous penalties contained in the new law.

“The penalties for not engaging in forced political speech is a fine as high as $500 per violation,” Sharp said. “This legislation is an overreach, and we have no choice but to go to court and try to stop it.”

The complaint is here.

* Tribune

The gas station owners argue they’re being treated differently than other businesses whose customers will benefit from the tax breaks. Supermarkets, for instance, will be required, “to the extent feasible,” to print a notice on their receipts that the 1% sales tax on groceries has been waived for one year. If it can’t be printed on the receipt, “then the retailer shall post the statement on a sign that is clearly visible to customers.”

But grocery stores, unlike gas stations, won’t face a fine if they fail to comply, a discrepancy the gas station group states is “a clear violation of Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection rights guaranteed by the United States and State of Illinois Constitutions.”

The suit also warned that customers who see the notice could “mistakenly perceive” that gas station owners are expressing political support for a particular policy, which “is outside the scope of the Motor Fuel Tax Law’s purposes and serves no legitimate governmental interest.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - here we go - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 1:37 pm:

    Wait - what about all the “Thanks Brandon” stickers on gas pumps all over Illinois?


  2. - Captain Obvious - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 1:54 pm:

    Those are most often placed there by customers, and they are voluntarily displayed, not government compelled advertising. And they’re really funny because they are rooted in truth.


  3. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 1:56 pm:

    ===And they’re really funny…===

    If you’re 12 years old.


  4. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:00 pm:

    =rooted in truth.=

    Ah yes. A global market impacted by the actions of 1 man.


  5. - Independent - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:02 pm:

    Juvenile “Brandon” stickers aside the IFRA has a point. Let the government perform its own publicity.


  6. - Al - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:03 pm:

    How large is the imagine of JB suppose to be on these notices?/s


  7. - JS Mill - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:13 pm:

    =If you’re 12 years old.=

    Why insult 12 year olds? Even they know how childish it is.


  8. - Nefarious Veneer - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:19 pm:

    The stations don’t want consumers to know they are aren’t really lowering prices and are pocketing the difference.

    That’s what this is about.

    If you see the sticker, you might come away informed. If you don’t, you never know and the money keep flowing to big oil.


  9. - Medvale School for the Gifted - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:27 pm:

    Gas station owners located just outside of a city that imposes a gas tax charge the same price per gallon as gas stations inside the city. Why? Obviously to put extra money in their pocket rather than give customers that few cents per gallon break.
    Gas station owners and oil companies have proven they cannot be trusted. If they don’t like the new law, they should invest in a sticker that says what taxes they are passing through.


  10. - Big Dipper - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:32 pm:

    Also from the Trib article: The GOP-backed plan 20-plus years ago required gas stations to place a sign on pumps informing those at the pump about the tax freeze. It was sold as a way to make sure the temporary tax savings, estimated at about 10 cents per gallon, was passed along to consumers rather than pocketed by businesses. The GOP plan, much like the 2022 Democratic plan, passed with bipartisan approval in the House and Senate.

    So I guess it is constitutional depending on which party is in control.


  11. - Club J - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 2:40 pm:

    No wonder gas prices are so high. They can afford frivolous lawsuits over a little sticker. Did I miss it. Is Mr. “That’s False” Tom DeVore involved in this?


  12. - Socially DIstant watcher - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:16 pm:

    Do gas stations have weights and measures stickers on them, confirming that they actually deliver the stated amount of gas? Then how can they think the tax sticker won’t stick?


  13. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:19 pm:

    == “mistakenly perceive” that gas station owners are expressing political support for a particular policy ==

    I can’t wait to read the court transcript when they get to the test of what a ‘reasonable person’ would believe. If this even makes it that far.

    Filing court cases full of conspiracy theories might make for good short-term press, but not much else.


  14. - Big Dipper - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:22 pm:

    == Is Mr. “That’s False” Tom DeVore involved in this?==

    Sadly there are other bottom feeders.


  15. - Bigtwich - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:27 pm:

    Thanks Captain Obvious.


  16. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==The GOP-backed plan 20-plus years ago required gas stations to place a sign on pumps informing those at the pump about the tax freeze. It was sold as a way to make sure the temporary tax savings, estimated at about 10 cents per gallon, was passed along to consumers rather than pocketed by businesses. The GOP plan, much like the 2022 Democratic plan, passed with bipartisan approval in the House and Senate.==

    That 2000 gas tax holiday was the start of the wheels coming off the Ryan administration and our finances ever since. Made worse by Illinois First spending largesse, 9/11, and then 16 years of Blago/Quinn/Rauner.


  17. - Bruce( no not him) - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 4:00 pm:

    ===But grocery stores, unlike gas stations, won’t face a fine if they fail to comply===
    This right here is the biggest problem to me.
    If the grocery stores don’t have to advertise for the legislators, why must the gas stations?


  18. - Joe Schmoe - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 4:25 pm:

    So if I read the law correctly, gas station owners can also put up a sign that says Pritzker is increasing their moor fuel taxes the first of the year and again on Jul 1, 2023…..


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