House bill would ban Illinois drivers from pumping their own gas

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(Benjamin Norman for The New York Times)

The Gas Station Attendant Act would make Illinois one of only two states nationwide that bar all drivers from self-service at gas stations.

By Austin Berg, Illinois Policy

Illinois drivers would not be allowed to pump their own gas if a new bill in Springfield becomes law.

Under House Bill 4571, the Gas Station Attendant Act, only dedicated employees would be allowed to pump gas at Illinois gas stations. Drivers would not be allowed to fill up directly as they have for decades.

The bill reads, “No gas may be pumped at a gas station in this State unless it is pumped by a gas station attendant employed at the gas station.” It was introduced Feb. 5 and currently sits in the House Rules Committee.

New Jersey is currently the only state in the nation with a blanket ban on drivers pumping their own gas. Oregon in 2018 loosened its mandatory gas station attendant law, allowing drivers to use the pump themselves in most counties with fewer than 40,000 people.

Even without a ban on self-service stations, Illinoisans are feeling pain at the pump – as well as at the DMV, the parking garage and the car dealership.

That’s due to $1.9 billion in vehicle-related tax and fee hikes signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2019.

Among other tax and fee changes, the governor:

  • Doubled the state’s gas tax, bringing Illinois’ gas tax burden to the third-highest in the nation and costing the typical driver $100 more per year.
  • Ensured the gas tax will increase automatically each year based on inflation, meaning the state gas tax is projected to rise to 43.5 cents from 38 cents by 2025 without lawmaker approval.
  • Hiked the standard vehicle registration fee by $50, to $150 from $101.
  • Established a new statewide parking tax, raising an estimated $60 million.
  • Imposed a new vehicle trade-in tax, setting some drivers back $1,000 or more depending on the value of their trade-in.
  • Allowed at last $1.4 billion in waste and pork-barrel spending in a $45 billion infrastructure plan, including dog parks, swimming pools, snowmobile paths, pickleball courts and a privately owned theater. One of the plan’s most vocal supporters, former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, pleaded guilty to corruption charges in January.

These vehicle-related tax and fee changes can cost a suburban family nearly $1,700. Notably, the gas tax and vehicle registration hikes alone more than wipe out any middle-class tax relief promised under the governor’s $3.4 billion progressive income tax hike proposal, which Illinois voters will approve or deny on Nov. 3.

If passed, the self-service ban would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

This article originally appeared in Illinois Policy.

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