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Illinois representatives negotiating lower fee for trailer licenses

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Many people in Illinois have owned trailers for years. However, you probably noticed a significant hike in the fee for the trailer’s license a few years ago.

State lawmakers want to bring that $118 fee back down to $18. However, House Democratic leaders say they must have a revenue solution ready before that can happen.

Take a quick road trip back to 2019 when Gov. JB Pritzker signed the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois plan. Many were excited for the improvements to roads and bridges. However, the state increased several fees in order to pay for those projects.

The license fee for small trailers was hiked up by $100 compared to the prices Illinoisans saw for years. Many people have been upset with this situation because it impacts, families, motorcyclists, and organizations like scout troops that use trailers for longer trips.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office reports 150,000 fewer people applied for trailer licenses last year due to that increase. Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville) worries that number will continue to drop if lawmakers don’t act.

“That $118 is really just not a reasonable fee on people and on small businesses,” said Stuart. “I’m hoping that we can come together in a bipartisan way and get the fee back to something that is more appropriate.”

Stuart is the Chief Sponsor of one of the bills to bring that fee back down to $18. Her proposal has 39 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, a bill with the exact same language sponsored by Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) has support from 62 members.

Reaching a compromise

Still, labor groups want to make a compromise in order to find revenue for projects and please residents. They hope to lower the trailer fee to $36 and raise the certificate of title fee by $5.

The Transportation For Illinois Coalition urged the House Revenue Committee to consider the impact of reducing any revenue sources from the Rebuild Illinois plan.

“TFIC does however understand the concerns about the level of increase on registration fees for small trailers,” said Coalition Co-Chair Kevin Burke. “TFIC would support reducing this fee provided that the lost revenue is replaced by other users fees that would be protected by the Safe Roads Constitutional Amendment.”

Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) thought the discussion Thursday morning went well. He wants to get that change finished before the end of session.

“I think we can reach a place where we can work with our GOP colleagues and come up with a bipartisan approach to make sure that trailer fee goes down and we still have enough money to afford new roads and bridges,” Zalewski said.

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Mike Miletich

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