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State workers enforcing Pritzker tax sign compliance at Illinois gas pumps

State workers are out forcing Gov. JB Pritzker’s mandate that all gas pumps carry a sign noting his delay in the next automatic gas tax hike. The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association is in state court fighting the mandate and $500-a-day fines.

State workers are checking Illinois gas stations to ensure they are posting four-inch by eight-inch signs in bold type on pumps noting the delay in the next automatic state gas tax hike.

If they aren’t complying, station owners face fines of $500 a day.

Workers from the Illinois Department of Agriculture are being used to enforce the sign mandate that on July 1 was part of Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The move has been decried as a campaign gimmick and Pritzker uses the delay in campaign ads noting he offered Illinoisans “relief.”

Josh Sharp, president of the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association, said his members are doing their best to comply.

“I don’t believe anyone that I know of has been cited yet for a fine but they are out there checking, which leads me to believe that if they did find someone without it on the pump then they would fine them, but so far I’m not aware of any,” Sharp said.

A spokesperson with the Illinois Department of Revenue said gas stations have been found without pump stickers, but didn’t indicate whether the owners were issued a fine or a warning.

Sharp said among the members complying with the mandates, there’s no guaranteeing stickers stay on display.

“People vandalize things, they take things off the pump, the wind could blow them off, you could have a strong storm, who knows,” Sharp said. “But, they’re making every effort to make sure that they stay on the pumps.”

Some stations are using signs developed by the association that note Pritzker is the one who doubled the gas tax, which pushed Illinois from 10th-highest state gas taxes to No. 2 in the US

The association lost its battle in federal court, arguing the signs are polititcal speech. Sharp said the same claim at the state level still has hope.

“Our case has actually been remanded back to Illinois state court and we are considering pursuing the case back in Sangamon County,” Sharp said.

The mandate expires Jan. 1, which means drivers will see two gas tax hikes in 2023. The rate is expected to hit 45.2 centsper gallon July 1, 2023.

The rate was 19 cents a gallon, but Pritzker doubled it to 38 cents in 2019 and added an automatic, inflationary adjustment so state lawmakers could duck responsibility for unpopular votes on gas tax hikes. The rate is now 39.2 cents.

Suspensions only postpone when Illinoisans pay more at the pump. Repealing automatic gas tax hikes would permanently help motorists fight inflation.

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