(The Center Square) – A compromise could be on the way to reduce the fee on small trailers many Illinoisans have decided not to comply with over the past year.
The fee for small trailers in 2018 was $18. That increased to $118 as part of the governor’s capital construction bill enacted in 2019.
State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said her House Bill 36 is an effort to drop it back to $18. She said there was obvious sticker shock last year.
“According to the Secretary of State we had 150,000 fewer trailer license applicants last year compared to the previous year and I worry that we’re going to see that number continue to decrease as people don’t register their trailers,” Stuart said.
The fee is impacting everyone from motorcyclists to nonprofit groups like scout troops.
“There’s been allegations that the fee increase was done by mistake,” Stuart said. “Regardless of what the intention was, that $118 dollars is just not a reasonable fee on people and small businesses.”
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office Thursday said on May 3, 2019, there were 332,444 trailer registrations. That dropped to 145,893 in May of 2020, during the state’s stay-at-home orders from the governor. As of April 30, 2021, the Secretary of State said there were around 325,200 registered trailers. At $118 per plate, that equates to nearly $38.4 million.
During the stay-at-home orders, “People simply chose not to renew their TA trailers for obvious reasons,” a Secretary of State press secretary said. “But the renewal numbers have risen back up in 2021 to 2019 levels.
Marc Poulos, with the Operating Engineers union, supports partially reducing that fee to $36, but replacing the revenue with an increase of $5 on one-time title transfer fees.
“This is a one-time fee that is paid, the certificate of titles, on the purchase of the vehicle rather than raising things like registration fees which happens on an annual basis,” Poulos said.
Some social media posts highlight a “lifetime plate” that’s a one-time $19 fee as a workaround for the $118 annual fee.
The Secretary of State’s office says that a lifetime plate does require annual trailer inspections for weights of more than 5,000 pounds.
Josh Witkowski with motorcycle lobby ABATE of Illinois cautioned people from getting that, saying it requires spot weight checks, annual trailer inspections and other ramifications.
“We would strongly encourage everybody to hold tight until the end of this legislative season on doing anything regarding a trailer plate,” Witkowski told WMAY.
The legislature has a May 31 deadline to pass legislation with simple majorities.