The next time someone think lawmakers should do something to make things better for the public, consider this: More than 250 new laws will take effect in Illinois on Jan. 1 and many of them are …
The next time someone think lawmakers should do something to make things better for the public, consider this: More than 250 new laws will take effect in Illinois on Jan. 1 and many of them are hitting us in the pocketbook.
It seems the General Assembly and governor used a simple principle to determine how to raise revenue: if it moves, tax it. We’re surprised bicycles were exempt. Of course, we don’t want to give lawmakers any ideas.
The reason for most of the new taxes, fees and fines is to help fund a sorely needed, multiyear $45-million capital infrastructure plan. Some of the increases are more bone-jarring than the average pothole.
Here are a few of the new taxes we thought would be of special interest to readers.
Vehicle registration: Registration fees for passenger vehicles will increase to $151 from $101, while electric vehicle registration fees will increase to $251 annually from $34 every other year. These are hefty increases and we wonder whether the electric vehicle fee, in particular, will discourage some Illinoisans from being more environmentally friendly. Their vehicles are on wheels, of course, so they might want pack them up and move to a different state to do their driving.
Trailer fees: The licensing fee for a trailer weighing less than 3,000 pounds will increase to $118 from $18, with every weight class above that also seeing a $100 increase. This looks like a mistake that needs to be corrected. A $100 increase to pull the boat is outrageous, especially because fees for the vehicles that pull those boats also increased by quite a bit.
Trade-in tax: The state currently does not collect sales tax on a car’s trade-in value. That changed Jan. 1 when the state began taxing any trade-in value more than $10,000. State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, was a co-sponsor on a bill that would have stopped that extra taxing. The measure was sent to the rules committee where legislation often goes to die.
This increase, which is expected to raise $60 million, will go toward vertical infrastructure such as new state buildings and renovations.
Stop for the bus: The stop sign that school bus drivers extend when they’re making their rounds is not a suggestion. Stop means stop. However, far too often motorists ignore the bus stop sign and put the lives of children at risk.
Maybe those motorists will think twice now that the fines have doubled. The fine for passing a school bus with its stop sign extended goes to $300 from $150 for a first offense. Fines for second and later offenses also are doubling, to $1,000 from $500. This is an increase we agree with 100 percent.
Slow down, move over: Drivers who do not slow down or move over for parked emergency response vehicles will be hit in the pocketbook a lot harder and could face jail time.
The Move Over Law, or “Scott’s Law,” which is named for Chicago Fire Lt. Scott Gillen, who was killed in 2000, was meant to protect people and save lives. The law took effect in 2002.
However, too many people have been injured and lost their lives. This year, in particular, has been deadly.
There have been 27 Illinois State Police troopers who have been hit this year while attending to traffic incidents — and three have died, including Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, 34, who was killed March 28 after she was struck by a semitrailer while inspecting a vehicle on the side of the road near Freeport.
Jones-Story’s death was the impetus for tougher penalties. State Rep. John M. Cabello, R-Machesney Park, was chief co-sponsor of the legislation, which Gov. JB Pritzker signed in Rockford.
The fine for a first violation of the law is going up to $250 from $100. Subsequent violations now carry a minimum fine of $750. Violators also will be charged an additional $250 fee to fund education and enforcement of the law. A violation becomes a Class 2 felony if it leads to the injury or death of a first responder.
We hope the increase penalties make a difference for trooper safety. We don’t want to see a repeat of 2019.