Illinois Democrats recently passed legislation requiring privately-owned gas stations to display stickers at gas pumps informing customers that the government postponed a gas tax until after the election. (Illinois was scheduled to impose a 2.2-cent-per-gallon gas tax on July 1, but the government pushed back the tax by six months to January 2023.) The mandatory stickers will read: "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 legislation also requires grocery stores to display a similar message on their cash register receipts. Many state Republicans and business leaders are arguing that the legislation is a thinly-veiled scheme to boost Democrats' election year prospects by forcing private businesses to display what amounts to free advertising-- or propaganda.
Incredibly, gas stations that refuse to display the stickers will face a $500 daily fine. This means that those refusing to comply each and every day between July 1 and election day on November 8 would be subject to $65,500 in fines.
The U.S. federal government taxes all gas sold in the country to the tune of 18.4 cents a gallon. The individual states add on their own taxes, with California taxing gasoline at a gob-smacking rate of 51.1 cents per gallon. Illinois isn’t far behind, punishing its citizens with a 39.2 cents a gallon tax. So, it is wildly disingenuous that its Democratic lawmakers, responsible for those taxes in the first place, want credit for delaying an additional tax increase for all of 6 months. Calling it an “inflation adjustment” just adds to the inanity/insanity/insult, as it is Democrats’ policies that have caused the recent unprecedented inflation.
More pertinent yet, how is it that a supposedly representative government, even if it’s essentially a one-party government, can force private companies to post its preferred partisan messages under threat of penalty of law? What will Illinois legislators do next, enact a law mandating private companies post signs stating, “As of August 1, the State of Illinois has delayed randomly confiscating private property until January 1, 2024. That’s how kind and generous your Democratic representatives in charge are. Just sayin’?” Or “Until further notice, the State of Illinois has decided to postpone the mass execution of conservatives indefinitely. Please vote accordingly?” Or perhaps a simple and understated, “Democrats are way cool, Republicans are evil?”
And what if Republicans ever again came to power in the Land of Lincoln? Should they get a pass if they passed a law forcing private businesses to display stickers trumpeting their tax cuts, common sense energy policies, pro-life stance…or…anything else?