By Scott Stantis
I think Scott has pretty much nailed it here.  The Illinois Machine has decided to take the supposedly sacrosanct ballot referendum and twisted it to further their own pathetic ends.  It's not just enough that Quinn, Madigan, and Cullerton have decided to just browbeat their serfs, and unfortunately, that includes me.  So, what do we have on the ballot this time around (thanks to Ballotpedia for the information here and throughout):

  • Right to Vote Amendment: "Provides that no person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election"
  • Crime Victims' Bill of Rights:  "Modifies the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights by strengthening the rights of crime victims during criminal court proceedings"
  • Minimum Wage Increase Question: "Increases the state's hourly minimum wage to $10"
  • Birth Control in Prescription  Drug Coverage Question: "Requires prescription birth control to be covered in prescription drug coverage health insurance plans"
  • Millionaire Tax Increase for Education Question: "Increases the tax on income greater than one million dollars to provide additional revenue to schools"

So, three of these are "questions" and not actual referenda.  Let's dig a little deeper.

The Right to Vote Amendment is actually short enough to be understood and quoted in full: "No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income."  Is this an issue?  I mean, there's nothing objectionable here aside from the fact that it seems superfluous.  Is there widespread disenfranchisement in Illinois based on sex?  Are gays being turned away in Iroquois county?  Does Skokie have "Irish need not apply" signs at the polls?  Is this addressing a real problem, or is it feel-good puffery?  Or is this a backdoor attempt to short circuit a voter ID law?  If that's the case, then this is little more than pissing in the wind.

The Crime Victims' Bill of Rights is a modification of the already existing Crime Victims' Bill of Rights.  It beefs up that existing legislation, adding a couple guarantees, and adds a couple provisions and protections.  It's completely inoffensive, and has broad bipartisan support.  Moving along.

Minimum Wage Increase Question.  Ah, now we're into the raw politics.  This is an "advisory question" which means it's non-binding.  Of course, the cynic says that it's non-binding if the vote is No, but binding if the vote is Yes.  Since Madigan desperately wants to raise the minimum wage in a delirious belief that the laws of economics don't apply to Illinois, he'll completely ignore a No vote by pointing out that it's non-binding.  Should the vote be Yes, he'll act as if his hands are tied and that he is simply bowing to the wishes of the public.  These kinds of advisory initiatives tick me off because it's just naked politicking.  I don't much like being held in contempt by the people who are supposedly working for me, but considering the fact that these assclowns get reelected year after year (Madigan was first elected in 1971; 43 years, over half his life!) either plenty of people in this state like it, or they're just too stupid to realize it.  Or tribalism.  Probably tribalism and pork.  Depressing, isn't it?

Anyway, the next one is Birth Control in Prescription Drug Coverage Question.  Sigh.  This is just blatant politicking by Quinn.  Created as a limp reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision, this is more evidence of Quinn either not understanding the ruling, or figuring people are too stupid to understand the ruling and playing on their outrage.  Sadly, it's probably a bit of both.  I'm never one to discount Quinn's idiocy, but I doubt many people who are up in arms about Hobby Lobby have read much about it.  No, Facebook meme pictures don't count.  Considering that no insurance plan offers no birth control coverage, and considering Hobby Lobby was about a few very specific methods (Hobby Lobby had no problem with the Pill, for instance), this is just weaksauce.  I mean, the minimum wage thing is pretty bad, but this is just amateur hour.  Which further highlights the difference between Madigan and Quinn.

And finally, Millionaire Tax Increase for Education Question, the final of three measures added for naked political reasons.  Much like the other two, this is an advisory question, acting as little more than ridiculous posturing (and, of course, bloody, dripping bait for left-leaning voters who might otherwise sit out the election).  That aside, the question itself is mostly inane.  It's another eat-the-rich provision, this time asking to amend the Illinois constitution to add an additional 3% tax on incomes over a million bucks.  The problems with this measure should be obvious to any and all, but beating the class warfare drums is just too easy, I guess.  What are the problems?  Well, for one, actual income of more than a million isn't too common, it's usually in the form of capital gains or other things which don't, technically, count as income.  Also, someone making a million bucks can hire creative accountants.  Finally, someone who is making north of a million bucks can probably, oh, I don't know, leave the state.  Just ask Rhodes Island.  Or Oregon. Or Maryland.  You'd think cutting the budget when times are tough might be an idea, but what the hell do I know.

There's one more, but it doesn't appear to be on the ballot.  Probably because it was a horrible blight and would be an insult to the great name of Illinois.  I mean, technically there's 4 missing, but three of them (Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Eliminate the Lt. Governor, and Independent Redistricting) didn't get on.  Same-Sex Ban didn't get enough votes to appear; no loss.  Likewise, Eliminate the Lt. Gov. didn't get the votes (legislatively-referred amendments need 60% support in House and Senate as opposed to a certain number of petition signatures).  The House and Senate refusing to eliminate a, literally, worthless position isn't surprising.  Just a bit of job-protecting quid pro quo.  Independent Redistricting was stopped by a lawsuit.  Yeah, no surprise there.  Heaven forbid someone other than the Machine control the districts.  Would make it vastly more difficult to map Republicans out of their districts.  Anyway, I wonder what that final measure that was stopped by a lawsuit was.  I wonder what Illinois Circuit Court Judge Mary L. Mikva (up for reelection in 2016, for those keeping score) stopped by judicial fiat.  It must have been pretty horrible.  Probably as odious as that Same Sex Marriage Ban thing...

Illinois Term Limits for Legislators Amendment


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