Fuel retailers take legal action against having to publish an article about the tax freeze

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Fuel retailers in Illinois argued in a lawsuit filed Thursday that a requirement to post signs alerting consumers to a six-month fuel tax freeze of the state unconstitutionally compels them to promote Governor JB Pritzker’s re-election campaign.

The Illinois Fuel & Retail Association and two major fuel distributors filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against the Illinois Department of Revenue, its director, David Harris, and others.

The issue is a sign that retailers must display on every fuel pump from July 1 following the General Assembly’s fuel tax freeze and Pritzker’s planned automatic inflation adjustment of around 2.2 cents per gallon. Initially proposed for one year, the law ends the freeze after six months.

A sign at least 4 inches by 8 inches must indicate this and add: “The price of this pump must reflect the suspension of the tax increase.”


Failure to publish results in a $500 daily fine, violating state and federal speech protections, according to the lawsuit, which cover “both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking.”

A spokesperson for the Illinois attorney general’s office, which will act as the government’s defense attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 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.” , says the lawsuit.

The closing argument supports his claim that the sign depicts political speech supporting not only Prtizker but Democratic lawmakers by citing their own comments. Rep. Michael Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, testified before a House committee that the signs will allow a consumer to “read the good stuff we’ve done.” And Pritzker’s latest ad campaign, according to the suit, proclaims that “JB froze the gas tax.”

Like the gas tax freeze, Pritzker and Democratic lawmakers lifted the 1% tax on groceries to fight inflation. A similar sign must be posted inside stores explaining savings on groceries — but there is no penalty for non-compliance, the lawsuit notes.

___

The lawsuit is Illinois Fuel & Retail Association v. Illinois Department of Revenue.

___

Follow political writer John O’Connor on https://twitter.com/apoconnor

Comments are closed.