Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Senator Wilcox calls for special session to enact real gas tax relief
As we approach the 4th of July- which many consider to be the mid-point of summer, gas prices aren’t getting any cheaper. In fact, they are only getting worse as motorists across Illinois are continuing to feel the sting of record-high prices. According to AAA, as of June 22, the average price for a gallon of gas was at $5.49 in Illinois. Up here in the suburbs the price of gas is even higher.

Despite these unprecedented prices that are doing harm to Illinois families, the Legislature seems to be content taking advantage of this crisis by gouging consumers of millions of dollars it never expected to receive. That’s why I’m calling for legislators to return to Springfield immediately to provide meaningful relief at the pump.

If you agree that legislators should immediately return to Springfield to address this crisis and provide real relief at the pump, please consider signing my petition, here.

Before adjourning the spring session in early April, Senate Republicans called for a proposal that would cap the state’s sales tax on gas, saving consumers up to 20 cents per gallon (about $1 billion per year), depending on the price of gas. Unfortunately, Governor Pritzker and Democratic legislators had something else in mind and passed a law that would simply delay an automatic two-cent increase to the state’s Motor Fuel Tax, which was set to take effect on July 1, 2022, until after the election in November. Consumers would see that two-cent increase on January 1, 2023, and then another increase on July 1, 2023.

The Governor is touting this as relief, but I would urge you to keep in mind that this isn’t relief at all. You will be paying the same price per gallon in July that you are now.

Again, I am calling for a special session to repeal the Governor’s two-cent election-year gimmick and pass real relief such as Senate Bill 4195, which caps the amount of sales tax the government can collect for its General Revenue Fund at 18 cents per gallon and is more in line with what motorists were paying before gas prices skyrocketed earlier this year. I am a Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill.

Illinois is one of just seven states that charge a sales tax on top of the motor fuel tax. While both the state and federal gas taxes are a flat tax, which means the tax does not change with the price of fuel, Illinois also charges a sales tax (6.25 percent) on top of the motor fuel tax, which means as gas prices go up, so does the amount of money the state receives.

The Motor Fuel Tax goes straight to the Road Fund and pays for critical infrastructure projects like the repair of roads and bridges. However, the sales tax goes into the state’s General Revenue Fund for politicians to spend on whatever they wish, such as pork projects.

Consumers can see how much they would save at the gas pump under the Senate Republican plan by using this gas savings calculator. Simply enter the current price of gas per gallon and the estimated gallons purchased per week and see how much your family could save per month.

 

Conversations Untapped scheduled in Crystal Lake for July 14
On Thursday, July 14, I’m partnering with nearby State Senator Don DeWitte for a Conversations Untapped event at Crystal Lake Brewery in downtown Crystal Lake. We’ll be at CLB from 6:30-8:00 PM, so come on out and say hello and we can talk about how we can brew a better future for Illinois. CLB is located at 150 N. Main Street in Crystal Lake.

 

United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade
This morning news broke that the United States Supreme Court has overturned the landmark case Roe v Wade. The crux of the decisions is that now individual states (rather than federal law) will dictate whether abortions may be performed and under what circumstances in each state.

Through legislative action over the years, abortion will remain legal in this state. Illinois has passed some of the most extreme abortion laws in the nation, including measures that preserve abortion rights in the event that Roe v Wade is overturned. In fact, in Illinois, an abortion can be performed for any reason, at any time, and in any circumstance (with taxpayers paying for it), and a minor can undergo a surgical abortion procedure without even notifying a parent or guardian. None of that changes with the ruling by the Supreme Court.  As the representative voice of the 32nd District, my votes on the issue have always aligned with my own pro-life values and the pro-life values of this region.

Abortion is an issue that brings about strong emotions on both sides, and my hope is that demonstrations in the coming days and weeks are lawful and safe. Gov. Pritzker wasted no time at all politicizing and capitalizing on the decision. Less than an hour after the decision was made public, lawmakers were told we will return to Springfield in the coming weeks to consider even more abortion legislation.

 

For the second time, Illinois Supreme Court declines to rule on FOID Act
Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court released a 4-3 decision to decline ruling on whether Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification Act is unconstitutional.

This is the second time that the Court has seen the case of the People v. Vivian Brown and the second time the court has chosen to not rule on the constitutionality of state’s FOID Act, which requires Illinoisans to receive a permit to legally own a gun.

The majority opinion contended that the White County Circuit Court did not adhere to the Supreme Court’s previous 2020 ruling in the case and that the lower court had no authority to reconsider the case after that ruling. This decision once again vacated the circuit court’s ruling that the FOID Act was unconstitutional.

The People v. Vivian Brown case started when Vivian Claudine Brown was charged in 2017 with possession of a firearm without a FOID card after police responded to a call that she had fired a gun in her home. While police didn’t find evidence that she fired the rifle they found at the home, they decided to charge her for possession.

That led to the Circuit Court in White County ruling that the fees and forms required to receive a FOID imposed an unconstitutional burden on Brown’s Second Amendment right to keep a firearm in her own home. Additionally, the circuit judge issued an alternative ruling without the prompting from Brown’s legal team that the Illinois General Assembly did not intend to apply the FOID Act in the home because that would have meant anybody with knowledge of a firearm and exclusive control over the area where it was kept could be construed as possessing the gun.

Because of this alternative ruling, the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision vacated the original order and sent the case back down to the lower court in White County. There, Brown’s legal team filed a motion to reconsider, which was granted by the circuit judge. After charges were reinstated, Brown’s attorneys filed a new motion to dismiss on constitutional grounds, which the judge upheld. This led to an appeal from the state, sending the case back to the Illinois Supreme Court.

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