Federal judge rejects gas station owners' fight against political stickers on pumps

The group’s lawsuit said the sticker requirement mandated by the Illinois Legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is forced political speech.

Updated: June 24, 2022 - 11:46pm

The organization representing gas station owners in Illinois wants motorists to know the state has some of the highest gas taxes in the country.

The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association plans to share that message on stickers they are now required to display on every pump now that a federal judge has rejected their attempt to stop them. The group’s lawsuit said the sticker requirement mandated by the Illinois Legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is forced political speech.

Beginning July 1, the law requires gas stations to post on each pump a sign stating state lawmakers temporarilly delayed an estimated 2 cents a gallon tax increase initially scheduled for next month. That tax increase will now take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The state-required language for the gas pump sign says, “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.”

The Pritzker administration said the sticker requirement is not partisan and the goal is to protect consumers.

IFRA CEO Josh Sharp says the stickers state government is mandating gas station owners to post will provide more information than what Pritzker and lawmakers intended.

“Motor fuel taxes in Illinois are the second highest in the nation and there is no tax cut coming on July 1 but two tax increases in 2023 and we are only posting those signs under the threat of $500 per day fines and criminal prosecution,” Sharp said.

After the second hike on July 1, 2023, the gas tax in Illinois is expected to hit 45.2 cents per gallon. That doesn't include that state's 6.25% sales tax that is assessed on top of every dollar of gasoline purchased in Illinois, not just every gallon.

Grocery stores are also required to display signs touting a 12-month suspension in the 1% state sales tax on food, but they aren’t subject to fines for not complying as gas stations owners are.

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