CHICAGO (CBS) — With warmer weather just around the corner, boaters are counting on the state to finally do something about skyrocketing trailer fees.
Lawmakers are doubling down on efforts to reverse a 555 percent increase in license plate registration fees for some small trailers.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: A Few Rain And Snow Showers To Continue
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas first uncovered the increase more than a year ago. Now, he is asking why it hasn’t been fixed sooner.
“We used to like to do snell fishing on the lake,” said Mike Borkowski.
Like any good fisherman, Borkowski knows how to wait. But when it comes to his license plate fees, he said, “I’m still trying to hold off, because I’m hoping maybe it will change.”
He’s about out of patience.
“Come next month, there’s going to be a lot of people screaming about it when they have to pay for it – because the end of March is the start of the new year for fishing,” Borkowski said, “and people are not going to want to pay this.”
Borkowski saw our stories in early 2020 about annual license plate fees for small trailers jumping from $18 to $118 due to language in the state’s massive infrastructure bill.
We were assured at that time that lawmakers were working to reverse the hike.
“Our understanding was it was a drafting error, and it was never intended to be,” said state Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore).
But Keicher said that plan never got off the ground.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Illinois: State Reports Lowest Average Infection Rate In Two Weeks, But Hospitalizations Still Rising
“That bill was never heard, and we’ve met a handful of times since then – but due to COVID ,we haven’t been in regular session,” he said, “so this has been a thorn in everybody side for a very long time. We need to jump on it as quickly as we can.”
Lawmakers are now working on new proposals to bring the fees back down – with bipartisan support.
Keicher is a Republican, while state Rep. Jonathan Carroll is a Democrat.
“There was a lot of moving parts to it, and I think as we went through this, we didn’t quite understand the ramifications of that specific fee itself,” said Carroll (D-Buffalo Grove).
McNicholas asked Carroll why the issue hasn’t been fixed over the past year.
“We were in COVID, so we didn’t have a chance to convene as a legislature,” Carroll said. “So now that we’re getting back on our feet and getting back as the 102nd General Assembly, I think that we’ll have an opportunity to work on more legislation like this.”
But for now, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office says people using trailers should follow the law and continue paying the higher fee.
“If it comes up, I’m hoping that maybe they’ll continue the postponement of it, since they know it’s a problem already,” Borkowski said.
And hoping and waiting is sometimes all a fisherman can do.MORE NEWS: University Of Chicago Resumes In Person Classes After COVID Outbreak
Rep. Keicher said in the best-case scenario, he’s hoping the Gov. JB Pritzker may sign the fix in June.