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Illinois Policy Institute/ Joe Kaiser

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Aug. 25 imposing fines for the sale of mislabeled catfish.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Aug. 25 prohibiting restaurants from labeling a menu item as catfish unless it actually contains catfish.

Senate Bill 312, now Public Act 100-0394, amends the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to allow for individuals to file complaints against restaurants mislabeling catfish. Under the new law, which will take effect July 1, 2018, if the Department of Public Health or a local health department receives two separate complaints for a restaurant mislabeling catfish, the department will inspect the restaurant for the validity of the catfish. Failing a catfish inspection will result in a $250 fine for the first offense, with the fine amount increasing for subsequent violations.

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The bill passed the Illinois Senate 55-1 May 18 and then the Illinois House 82-23 May 30. SB 312 is a reminder of how out of step lawmakers’ priorities were this spring, when they once again failed to pass a balanced budget, leading to a special legislative session this summer that brought the state multibillion-dollar tax hikes.

Instead of focusing on catfish dinners, state lawmakers should spend more time passing legislation Illinois truly needs to improve its fiscal health and change its trajectory. Policing restaurants’ seafood menus does not fit those criteria.

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