Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois spoke to the Chicago Tribune Tuesday about the 2009 law that would increase the annual lobbyist fee to $1,000.

According to the Chicago Tribune article, U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall said the fee was too high and recently put a hold on the law.

Connell said the fee violates the constitutional right to freedom of speech:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which brought the case, argued that the state law violates the constitutional right to freedom of speech because it requires an unreasonable fee to lobby before the Illinois General Assembly.

"Paying this excessive fee would (limit) our constitutionally protected right to address the General Assembly and to deploy staff and other resources effectively," said Colleen K. Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois.

The 2009 law boosted to $1,000 from $350 the annual registration fee for the lion's share of lobbyists. It also raised to $1,000 the $150 annual fee for not-for-profit organizations, the group said.

The ACLU argued that the increase in fees exceeded the costs of administering them by more than $2.5 million, allowing the state to generate money that could be used elsewhere during its budget crisis. The group said nine states don't have any lobbyist fee at all and 14 others charge no more than $150.

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