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|Tripling Fees for Lobbyists in Springfield Draws the Ire of ACLU
|The ACLU is entering the fray on behalf of lobbyists in Springfield.
A new law raises the lobbyist registration fee, starting January 1st, from $350 per organization and per lobbyist, to $1,000 per organization and per lobbyist. The ACLU says that's not a fee, that's a tax, and it's a tax on free speech, which ACLU lawyer Adam Schwartz says is forbidden under case law.
Schwartz says lobbyists have a right to petition their government, whether they represent for-profit pecuniary interests, or not-profit organizations that often represent large numbers of members of the general public. He says prior rulings have given the OK for states to regulate lobbying, by forbidding improper gifts, for example, and to set up a registration system to enforce the rules, and to charge the fees necessary to cover the cost of such a system. But the new fees that take effect January 1st will be a revenue source for the state beyond the cost of the program, amounting to a tax on free speech.
The ACLU filed suit in federal court in Chicago, asking the judge to determine what it actually costs the state to administer lobbyist registrations, and forbid the state from charging more than that.
At an appearance Tuesday, the ACLU will ask for a hearing on a temporary restraining order in time to prevent the fees from taking effect January 1st while the underlying suit is litigated.
The ACLU is itself affected by the fees - as a lobbying organization, it's fee will go from $350 a year to $1,000, as will the fee for each of its two lobbyists, so the total for the ACLU rises from $1,050 to $3,000.
The case is ACLU of Illinois v. Jesse White. Secretary of State Jesse White is the named defendant because his office is responsible for administering the lobbyist registration program in Illinois.
(Illinois Radio Network)
|12 11 09 by Newsroom
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