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updated: 11/3/2014 6:05 PM

5 statewide referendums for Illinois voters

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  • Voters will find five statewide referendums on the ballot Tuesday.

    Voters will find five statewide referendums on the ballot Tuesday.

 
 

Illinois voters will have their say Tuesday on hot-button issues ranging from minimum wage to birth control.

Five statewide referendum questions will be on the ballot in Tuesday's election -- the most in at least 44 years, according to state records.

Three of the referendums are advisory only, meaning they don't become law even if they pass. But two are proposed constitutional amendments, which would become law and take effect immediately if approved by three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election.

Here's a recap:

• Victims' rights amendment

The proposed constitutional amendment would offer crime victims more protection of their rights during court proceedings and criminal trials. It would ensure victims could submit impact statements in court and be notified of hearings, plea negotiations and releases from custody, among other things.

Supporters say victims deserve more protections because the court doesn't always follow procedures or give them a strong voice in criminal proceedings.

However, critics say the current laws are sufficient and the change could be detrimental to the judicial process, shifting the delicate balance between what prosecutors can do and a defendant's rights.

• Right-to-vote amendment

The proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit denying anyone the right to vote based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, origin, sex, sexual orientation, income or membership in a language minority.

It's aimed to discourage the state's General Assembly from passing a law that would require voters to show ID cards or take similar measures that could affect an individual's right to vote. The proposal doesn't specifically address needing an ID.

Opponents argue these voter protections are already in place.

• Minimum wage increase

This nonbinding advisory referendum asks if the minimum wage should be increased from $8.25 to $10 an hour. Proponents say such an increase would help create more of a living wage for working families, but critics say it would lead to job cuts.

• Millionaire tax

This advisory referendum proposes to charge Illinois residents who make more than $1 million a 3 percent income tax surcharge to raise funds for education. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has said the tax would raise $1 billion annually.

There was an unsuccessful attempt to pass the tax as legislation, so Democratic leaders posed it as a nonbinding ballot question to gauge public support.

Critics say the referendum is purely political and doesn't prevent legislators steering other money away from the state's education fund.

• Birth control

The nonbinding question asks if insurance companies that offer prescription coverage should cover birth control. Illinois has had such a law since 2003, but supporters say widespread voter approval will ensure future protections.

Proponents hope to lay the groundwork for legislation that requires employers to provide notice to employees about exclusions in health insurance plans' contraceptive coverage.

Critics say the last-minute ballot measure is unnecessary and intended only to boost turnout by scaring women into voting for fear they will lose their birth control coverage.

Daily Herald Wire Services contributed to this report

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