Legalized gambling, medical marijuana, liquor distribution, and the progressive income tax were among the hot topics discussed at a recent legislative forum in Oswego.
State legislators and their staff gave updates on the General Assembly’s spring session at the forum hosted by the Oswego Chamber of Commerce at the Oswego Public Library on Monday, May 14.
Attending the forum as part of the panel were State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and staff from the offices of State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield, and State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield.
Others attending included Oswego Village Administrator Daniel Di Santo, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Asif Dada of School District 308, Lulu Blacksmith of Waubonsee Community College, Michelle Meyer of Mutual Ground, and James Feeley of the Oswego Senior Center, along with the chamber’s president and CEO, Angie Hibben.
Tom Kozlowicz, who chairs the Oswego Chamber’s Legislative Committee, moderated the forum.
Rezin told the forum audience that she was opposed to a proposed progressive income tax. She said the state’s flat income tax rate was “one of the few advantages we have as a state” to attract businesses.
“Some states have no taxes, and that’s where companies go to invest,” she said.
Rezin said the top 1 or 10 percent of the income earners who will be taxed the most by a progressive income tax are “our job creators.”
“I want our job creators to be doing really well, because they’re the ones that give jobs to people who live here and they pay their taxes,” she said.
Di Santo noted the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday that opened up states to legalize sports gambling. He said the revenue could help fund capital projects.
“Let’s get rolling,” he said.
Rezin said residents will see a bill “very quickly” in Illinois and other states.
“It’s certainly something I’m going to look at,” she said. “We just need to make sure that the details are right.”
Keith Moore, who owns Black Dog Distillery in Plainfield and sits on the Oswego Chamber’s Board, said he is supporting legislation that makes it easier for small craft distilleries and breweries to distribute their products.
Senate Bill 2286, sponsored by State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Lake Zurich, would amend the state’s Liquor Control Act to allow craft distillers to make sales and deliveries of up to 25,000 gallons of spirits to retailers per year.
That would allow smaller retailers and bars to buy directly from small distilleries without a distributor, according to Moore.
Moore said that, currently, for example, if he wants a store in Oswego to carry his products, he can’t sell them the alcohol directly and the store must go through his distributor, which is located in Niles.
“So I ship liquor to Niles, Niles turns around and ships it back to Oswego,” he said. “Not only that, but the distributor will have a minimum – they’ll say you’ll have to buy a minimum of three to six cases. So now we have a new restaurateur ... and he’s going to have to buy a minimum of three cases, and he doesn’t have the space for it. [The legislation] would help on all levels – local restaurants, small bars, everything else.”
Rezin said she was “amazed at how powerful” the liquor distributor lobby was.
“Anything that we can do to help, especially for your industry it’s been difficult,” Rezin told Moore.