SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – As 2022 comes to an end, you may wonder what state leaders have planned for the new year. Illinois lawmakers have already held several hearings on a proposed assault weapon ban, but you can expect that and much more in 2023.
Gas tax increase
A freeze on the gas tax in Illinois will end on Jan. 1 as the rate will hit 42.4 cents per gallon. You should also expect to see the gas tax increase again on July 1.
The Illinois Fuel & Retail Association said Friday that Springfield will get your money to make up for freezing the gas tax during the recent intense election season. Illinois is also one of few states that impose an additional sales tax on top of the motor fuel tax. Some argue that should be eliminated.
“That sales tax is going to float with the value of underlying commodity, in this case, the gasoline. So when gasoline is cheaper, the state doesn’t collect as much sales tax,” said Josh Sharp, CEO of the Illinois Fuel & Retail Association. “But when gasoline goes to $4 or $5 per gallon, they collect a lot more sales tax. And I believe this year they’re on pace to collect almost another billion dollars.”
Illinois Senate Republicans introduced a plan this spring to cap the sales tax on motor fuel at 18 cents per gallon. However, that bill never received a hearing. Sharp hopes lawmakers will work with industry leaders to pass a bipartisan solution.
Assault weapon ban
Meanwhile, Illinois Democrats are just days away from passing the proposed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. This plan could make it unlawful to manufacture, deliver, buy or sell assault weapons or high-capacity attachments.
The bill would allow anyone who already owns assault weapons to register their guns and pay a $25 fee to the Illinois State Police.
Survivors of gun violence believe this is common sense legislation that gains bipartisan support.
“Skip the aisle,” said Jaquie Algee. “Don’t worry about the aisle, because the aisle doesn’t exist when it comes to human loss, hurt and pain.”
Algee is a leader for the Chicago Foundation for Women and serves as the vice president-director of external affairs for SEIU Healthcare of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas. However, Algee said this fight is personal for her, as she lost her son to gun violence.
This proposal will also repeal the current law that allows people under 21 to obtain FOID cards with parental consent. However, the National Rifle Association and Illinois State Rifle Association argue that any plan banning 18 to 20-year-olds from having a FOID card will violate the Second Amendment.
“The gun owners are tired of being blamed for every madman, every criminal and every other depraved act that 2.5 million gun owners didn’t do,” said former NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde.
The House and Senate plan to be in Springfield for the scheduled lame-duck session from Jan. 4 to Jan. 10.
Expanding abortion protections
Illinois lawmakers could also discuss plans to expand abortion protections for providers from surrounding states. Planned Parenthood of Illinois said the number of patients coming to Illinois will only continue to grow. This follows the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Dr. Amy Whitaker, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said providers are seeing hundreds of patients from out of state each month.
“I cannot emphasize enough that it’s absolutely imperative that we expand abortion care in Illinois,” Whitaker said. “Since Roe was overturned, the expected surge of patients coming to Illinois is here.”
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul convened a roundtable discussion with several reproductive rights organizations and private law firms in October to discuss the anticipated need for more pro bono representation of providers, patients, and support groups. Raoul said that no one should fear legal ramifications for seeking or providing essential health care services in the state.
“As states around the country, particularly those surrounding Illinois, ban or severely restrict abortion, we are concerned about other states’ laws instilling fear, curbing access to abortion, and punishing patients and providers in Illinois,” Raoul said. “The legal community must unite to meet these challenges.”
Pritzker’s second term and potential presidential campaign
Gov. JB Pritzker is also looking ahead to 2023. Pritzker and other executive officers will be inaugurated on Jan. 9. The governor said this summer that he would like to see Illinois make college free for anyone at or below the state’s median income. He has also discussed increasing childcare assistance for families living at up to 300% of the federal poverty line.
But what about the speculation that Pritzker may run for president in 2024? President Joe Biden will likely announce his plans for a possible re-election campaign soon. We asked the governor if he is seriously considering a presidential run during a one-on-one interview in June.
”I’m running for re-election for governor of Illinois because I love this state and I love the job,” Pritzker said. “I really believe that we have so much more that we can accomplish for the people of Illinois.”
The 103rd General Assembly will be inaugurated on Jan. 11.
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