Put the budget and the other financial problems Illinois is having on the back burner! As Illinois taxpayers wait to see if lawmakers can craft a budget before session ends May 31, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting restaurants from labeling a menu item as catfish unless it actually contains catfish. Seriously.

Like many, I was caught completely unaware of the Illinois catfish crisis. I foolishly thought that our recent credit downgrade, our ongoing lack of a budget, a proposed $5.4 billion tax hike, and other "kitchen table" issues were the things we should be focusing on.

The legislation amends the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to allow for individuals to file complaints against restaurants mislabeling catfish. Under this legislation, 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. If the restaurant fails the catfish inspection, the department will impose a $250 fine, with the fine amount increasing for subsequent violations.

Lawmakers haven’t passed a balanced budget in 16 years. Meanwhile, Illinoisans are suffering under the highest tax burden in the nation and are clamoring for serious economic reforms, but lawmakers show more concern for fish dinners over taxpayers. Instead of debating the authenticity of seafood menu items, Illinois lawmakers should get to work on a real balanced budget that offers the foundational reforms the state needs, doesn’t raise taxes and offers real hope for struggling Illinoisans.

Here's a brief look at the discussion in Springfield, where one lawmaker seems to be having some difficulty taking this seriously:

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