A federal judge dismissed a case brought by gas station owners in Illinois and sided with the state’s Democrat governor over signage that is to be placed on gas pumps statewide.
The gas station owners argued that placing stickers on their gas pumps touting that the state was not hiking gas taxes by two cents until January 2023 was forced political speech, Quad-City Times reported.
U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough, who was appointed by former President Obama, said that the stickers were not political speech but merely “a purely factual statement” about the postponement of the gas tax increase.
“The signage does not contain controversial statements,” the judge said. “Plaintiffs cite no case law or authority, binding or otherwise, to support their contention that the signage is political.”
She said that the information in the signage “furthers the Defendants’ stated goal of ‘ensuring that customers actually are aware of and obtain the benefit of the General Assembly’s suspension of the inflation adjustment to the gas tax.’”
The requirement, which passed through the Illinois General Assembly in its truncated spring session, calls for gas stations to post a 4-by-8-inch sign informing drivers of a gas tax freeze for the second half of 2022, beginning July 1.
The lawsuit was originally filed last month in Sangamon County court before it was transferred to federal court in early June.
Josh Sharp, CEO of the fuel and retail organization, said Myerscough’s ruling, which came ahead of a scheduled Friday hearing that was then canceled, defied “common sense and the Constitution.”
“I think it was absolutely rushed by the judge,” he said. “This type of speech should be relegated to campaign commercials and direct mail.”
“The six-month pause in the state’s annual inflation-based gas tax increase is part of a broader effort by Pritzker and the Democrats who control the legislature to show voters that they’re taking action against rising consumer prices. Republicans have dismissed the package, which also includes a one-year suspension of the grocery tax, property tax rebates of up to $300, and direct payments to many taxpayers, as election-year gimmickry,” the report said.
“The state gas tax, currently 39.2 cents per gallon, was set to increase by 2.4 cents on July 1, according to the state Department of Revenue. But with Pritzker’s signature on the tax relief plan, that bump will be pushed off until Jan. 1, with the exact amount of the increase to be determined by where inflation stands at the end of September. Drivers will be hit with another increase on July 1, 2023,” it said.
A poll this month showed that a majority now believe that President Joe Biden is intentionally trying to boost the price of fuels in order to push a radical ‘green’ energy agenda, and doesn’t mind harming them in the process.