Current session ending

Richard Koritz
Posted 5/23/19

In a few short days the current legislative session in Springfield will end. On a totally candid and cynical note, I remind all, “If the legislature ani’t is session, they can’t do any harm.” However, the Legislature is in session in Springfield and four pending bills have my attention.

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Current session ending


In a few short days the current legislative session in Springfield will end. On a totally candid and cynical note, I remind all, “If the legislature ani’t is session, they can’t do any harm.”  However, the Legislature is in session in Springfield and four pending bills have my attention.

PROGRESSIVE INCOME TAX—This is a foundation bill of Governor Pritzker’s administration. Illinois currently has a flat tax. Pritzker stresses that such a tax is regressive and impacts the poor much more so than the wealthy. He wishes to amend the state constitution to allow for a progressive income tax is which more is paid by the wealthy. I admit it sounds good, but why do we need to take such a Constitutional step when Springfield could simply increase personal exemptions or enact legislation that the first “X” dollars of income is exempt from the state tax and then then adjust the flat tax rate. I see the proposal as a gimmick to raise taxes on large income earners. The downside is that the wealthy move and then there is no tax base. Look at Chicago, New York and L. A.  The wealthy are leaving and with them goes investment dollars and jobs.

SPORTS BETTING—If you wish to make a wager on a game, much of me says that is your business and not an issue for the state. Organized gambling is always a concern in that crime figures almost always seem to infiltrate it and the setting becomes rigged at some point. Additionally, the talk for the progressive income tax was to repel a perceived regressive tax. The studies on gambling clearly show that it is the poor that wager the funds they cannot afford to lose on gambling. Buy your lottery ticket or raffle ticket and enjoy the experience. Most do not buy those tickets in amounts that will bankrupt a family. Sports betting is a different animal and it is very easy to bet in multiples of hundreds of dollars. The state is simply looking at a new source of tax revenue with little, if any, concern for the families this will negatively impact.

GASOLINE TAX—I bought the car I drive four years ago with 65,000 miles on it. Today, its odometer is at 258,000 miles. Add my wife’s car to that and it’s obvious that I pay a lot of gas tax. I don’t like paying the tax, but I want the roads to be passable. Let’s go back to Pritzker’s progressive tax argument. The proposed gas tax increase will have the most negative impact on the working person who has to commute. If you commute to Springfield, Decatur or Bloomington to work, your cost of getting to work will increase dramatically. This will hurt those in downstate far more than those in Chicago. I see the need for road improvements in Illinois. Other states appear to have better roads and lower taxes. Perhaps the problem is in how Springfield manages the funds they currently have. As with all three of these issues, I see the state driving to get new revenue, but little concern for managing the revenue they have in a responsible manner.

LEGALIZED MARIJUANA—I fully believe that the uses for medical marijuana need to have true scientific studies conducted in a controlled setting. There seems to be much benefit for certain pain issues and eye disorders, but the studies are few and far between. I don’t know how the medical marijuana can be prescribed when there is a dearth of studies as to the quality and quantity needed for a medical result. As to its recreational value, there are problems with the drug, just as there are problems with alcohol, but with alcohol we have some quality control standards.

The legislation concerns me as there is language to expunge, across the board, lower level convictions. Anything done carte blanche warrants scrutiny. We have some bad characters out there and to unilaterally expunge their convictions just doesn’t make sense. I can see case by case expungements, but the carte blanche concerns me. 

The proposed legislation also allows  an individual to have 5 growing plants in his possession. There is no way that can be enforced and such language simply makes a mockery of the bill.

More importantly, and has been publicly stated by law enforcement agencies, is the aspect of driving under the influence of the THC in cannabis. Drivers know that alcohol can be objectively measured and at .08 you are intoxicated for driving purposes. I am not aware of any objective standard for an amount of THC in your system that says you are intoxicated. I agree with the many objections given by the police organizations that it will be difficult at best to convict someone of DUI for cannabis use without an objective standard.  As with the above the State of Illinois is looking a marijuana as the panacea for its revenue woes. At this time the proposed legislation is simply not well thought out and should be withdrawn from consideration or voted down in its present form.

Lastly, Illinois has great sources of revenue. However that revenue has been locked into a legislature that has historically been a poor steward of its resources. 

On a positive note, the legislation session terminates in a few days and no harm can occur until the next session. Have a great weekend.