CHICAGO (CBS) – As Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, Illinois boaters have yet another reason to celebrate.

A huge 555% increase in license plate fees for boat trailers could soon be all but canceled thanks to a bill just passed by Illinois House.

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CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reports from Burnham Harbor and boaters have said they are finally optimistic about a potential solution.

It all started when a 2019 infrastructure bill drove up renewal fees. Now a fix is ​​finally moving to Springfield.

Since last year, boaters have gone from $ 18 a year to $ 118.

All in the license plate fees. Not for their boats, but for the small trailers they use to transport them.

“Paying that much is crazy.”

Frank Wagner said he only uses his trailer on Memorial Day and a few other days a year.

“Which is just crazy for something like a boat that only hits the road for maybe 50 miles a year,” Wagner said.

Since early 2020, lawmakers have said a solution is underway, but lawmakers have said COVID and other hurdles left those plans dead in the water.

Today, Illinois House finally passed a bill that would lower the fee to $ 36, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Evans (33rd) from Chicago.

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“We have to pay the bills in the state of Illinois, so people are looking for income. So I think it’s something where people said it wouldn’t be that bad, ”Evans said. “But I don’t think there was a lot of analysis at that time.”

CBS 2 has been inundated with complaints from boaters and lawmakers have heard from some of those same frustrated taxpayers.

Small trailers are also used to transport ATVs and lawn mowers.

Evans said he was confident the bill will go through the Senate and be signed by the governor.

“Sometimes you make mistakes, but as a government you have to fix them and fix them,” Evans said.

The bill does not include refunds for people like Wagner, who have already lost over $ 200 because of the increase.

“Please sign it. Fix it, ”Wagner said. “I don’t know if it was a mistake or what but I mean it’s just crazy.”

Evans is optimistic the new fees could go into effect this summer, but that depends on how it plays out in the Senate.

For now, he advises everyone to keep paying the high fees.

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