Illinois minimum wage increases over the past 20 years. (Graphic/Kenny Reiter)

Five Ballot Items That Illinois Voters Must Know

By Kenny Reiter

Posted: Monday, Sept. 15, 2014

Illinois voters can voice their opinion Nov. 4 on five ballot measures addressing such topics as suffrage, healthcare and a statewide advisory question on a hot-potato topic -- minimum wage.

Historically, there has only been one measure annually since 1998, thus making 2014 an above-average year, according to Ballotpedia. Two measures are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments concerning voting and the rights of crime victims.

The other three are advisory questions pertaining to minimum wage, health insurance and taxes. Two other legislatively referred constitutional amendments almost made it to the ballot, but failed to pass the Illinois General Assembly. 

Those who oppose the ballot measures claim the issues “don’t exist” and are an attempt for Democrats to get votes according to an article by The Associated Press.

Matt Muchowski, a DePaul political science alum and District 7 staff for American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), explained that the measures, raising the minimum wage in particular, can benefit the people of Illinois.

"Most minimum wage workers are adults, many raising families and the current minimum wage is not enough for working families to survive on,” Muchowski said. “Raising the minimum wage would not only help those who are paid at that rate, but would have a positive impact for the Illinois economy and communities throughout the state.”

Whichever state officials win this November will have to grapple with the fact that recent polls show a majority of Illinois voters support the raise in minimum wage, he added.

One of the measures put to rest was a term limits referendum backed by Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Supreme Court found the proposal, which limited state lawmakers to eight years in the General Assembly, to be unconstitutional. After the decision was made, Rauner sent out a fundraising pitch on term limits aimed at Gov. Pat Quinn and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan in particular.

Here are the ballot measures voters will see in the 2014 general election as they appear on the Illinois Elections Voters Guide:

Constitutional Amendment No. 1: Crime Victims' Bill of Rights
The proposed amendment makes changes to Section 8.1 of Article I of the Illinois constitution, the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. The proposed amendment would expand certain rights already granted to crime victims in Illinois, and give crime victims the ability to enforce their rights in a court of law. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution

Constitutional Amendment No. 2: Suffrage and Elections Article Section
The proposed amendment adds a new section to the Suffrage and Elections Article of the Illinois Constitution. The proposed amendment would prohibit any law that disproportionately affects the rights of eligible Illinois citizens to register to vote or cast a ballot based on the voter’s race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation or income. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution.

Statewide Advisory Question No. 1
“Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults over the age of 18 be raised to $10 per hour by Jan. 1, 2015?”

Illinois minimum wage is currently $8.25 per hour. Minimum wage workers have been protesting all over the state in the past two years asking for a higher minimum wage, to $15 per hour.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who enters a re-election year in 2015, has agreed with a city panel's push for an increase to $13 per hour. An executive order is already set that will set that minimum for an city contracts negotiated after Oct. 1.

An increase to $10 an hour would put Illinois well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

 Statewide Advisory Question #2
“Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of the coverage?”

 Statewide Advisory Question #3
“Should the Illinois Constitution be amended to require that each school district receive additional revenue, based on their number of students, from an additional three percent tax on income greater than one million dollars?”

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This Data/Chicago project made possible by 
journalism grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation

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