Two new amendments to the Illinois Constitution, which were placed on the ballot by the General Assembly, were approved by voters. These amendments are effective once the election results are certified.
1. Victims' Rights Amendment (HJR CA 1): Known as Marsy's Law, this amendment seeks to expand the rights of Illinois crime victims, giving them greater ability to enforce their rights in a court of law. The Crime Victims' Bill of Rights would ensure crime victims are provided with information about hearings and plea negotiations, access to restitution and protections against alleged perpetrators. It would also allow victims the right to speak on their own behalf during a post-arraignment release decision, plea or sentencing, and would require the courts to taken into account the safety of a victim and his/her family when determining bail or a defendant's release.
2. Voters' Rights Amendment (HJR CA 52): This amendment prohibits any law that would disproportionately affect Illinois residents' rights to vote based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, orientation, status as a member of a language minority, or income. The Senate sponsor of the proposed amendment indicated the intent was to prohibit adoption of voter identification laws in Illinois, such as requiring photo identification to cast a ballot.
During the spring legislative session, three advisory referendums were placed on the ballot. Since these measures were purely advisory, it is possible that legislation to address these issues may be introduced in the near future.
1) Minimum Wage: This advisory question, which was placed on the ballot by P.A. 98-691/HB 105, asked if Illinois' minimum wage should be raised to $10 an hour by January 2015. Though proposals to increase the minimum wage have been introduced in previous years, a vote on this controversial issue was deferred until after the fall general election. The latest legislation to call for an increase in the minimum wage is Senate Bill 68, which would incrementally increase the minimum wage in Illinois to $10.65 by 2016.
2) Contraception Mandate: This advisory question, which was placed on the ballot by P.A. 98-696/HB 5755, asked if prescription contraceptives should be covered under health insurance plans that cover prescription medication. This question was introduced in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The Supreme Court ruled some employers do not have to provide contraception coverage as part of their employees' health insurance plan if such coverage violates the employers’ religious beliefs. However, Illinois law has already required contraceptive coverage since 2003.
3) Millionaires Tax: This advisory question, which was placed on the ballot by P.A. 98-794/HB 3816, asked voters if the state constitution should be amended to impose an additional 3% income tax on incomes greater than $1 million for the purpose of directing that additional funding to Illinois school districts.