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By: Jeff Martin

Chicago: Property Tax Exemptions

Proposal: “Should the City of Chicago seek that the State of Illinois create a homeowners property tax exemption for families in municipalities of over 500,000 that have lived in their home for over 10 years and whose income is under $100,000?”

Result (96.5% of precincts reporting):

Yes 573,434 (79.1%)

No 151,930 (20.9%)

This proposal lowers the already rising, second-highest, property taxes in the country. The city roundly agreed on this bill, unsurprisingly, as property tax exemption laws have already been passed previously. This would support a large portion of long time, property-owning middle-class families. Ideally, it continues to encourage long term investment in Chicago property and will promote good home ownership practices.

Chicago: Ban Plastic Straws

Proposal: “Should the City of Chicago ban the use of plastic straws within the corporate city limits?”

Result (96.5%  of precincts reporting):

Yes 405,492 (55.2%)

No 329,589 (44.8%)

The most hotly contested of the referenda, Chicagoans proved divisive on taking even a basic step towards individuals acting locally while thinking globally. While the city broadly has a strong track record of green space, many individuals clearly value their straws a lot. Maybe this presents a sign that more measures meant to curb wasteful consumption will be enacted?

Chicago: Cannabis Revenue Use

Proposal: “In the event marijuana is legalized, should the City of Chicago appropriate revenue from the sale of marijuana to increase funding for Chicago Public Schools and for mental health services?”

Result (96.5%  of precincts reporting):

Yes 653,466 (88.2%)

No 87,535 (11.8%)

Chicagoans vehemently voted yes to this hypothetical question, which should heavily inform how tax-revenue from legalization of Cannabis would flow in broad terms. It does not specify how the theoretical tax would be implemented, nor does it state where the funds from theoretical legalization would be allocated. For decades, a drug that mounting evidence suggests has been part of a tool for marginalization is now going to fund our education? Democracy is a wild thing.

Cook County: Illinois Gun Penalties

Proposal: “Should the State of Illinois strengthen penalties for the illegal trafficking of firearms and require all gun dealers to be certified by the State?”

Result (54.4% of precincts reporting):

Yes 683,171 (92.4%)

No 240,944 (15.6%)

Saving a miraculous turn of events, this referendum will certainly pass. Unfortunately, the proposal reads as vague and seems meant to pacify masses, rather than establish firearm reform as a legitimate platform. It should be striking that Cook County doesn’t already require gun dealers to have state certifications. Further, the unspecific notion that penalties should be strengthened is a far cry from determining how to stem the flow of illegally trafficked firearms, especially when it is an interstate issue.

Cook County: Match County Sick-Time Rules

Proposal: “Shall your municipality match the Cook County earned sick time law which allows for workers to earn up to 40 hours (5 days) of sick time a year to take care of their own health or a family member’s health?”

Result (98.5% of precincts reporting)

Yes 1,393,662 (89.3%)

No 167,260 (10.7%)

This will force municipalities to follow a Cook County measure passed in 2016, which itself mirrored a Chicago ordinance. This doesn’t match the standard the U.S. Department of Labor set for itself when it proclaimed federal contractors should let employees earn up to seven paid sick days a year. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association have decried the measure in the past, deeming it a contributor to an unfriendly business climate.

Cook County: Match County Minimum Wage and Link to CPI:

Proposal: “Shall the minimum wage in your municipality match the $13 per hour Cook County minimum wage law for adults over the age of 18 by July 1, 2020, and be indexed to the consumer price index after that?”

Result (98.5% of precincts reporting)

Yes 1,306,687 (84.4%)

No 240,944 (15.6 %)

Similar to the healthcare referenda, the passing of this referenda reinforces a previously passed City measure. Municipalities will be prevented from opting out of the now county mandated increasing minimum wage. The minimum wage is presently $12/hour and will increase to $13/hour in by July 1, 2020. Moving onward, the CPI, which is machination of the federal Department of Labor, will be the judge of Cook County minimum wage, linking some of Chicago’s economic self-determination to the federal government.


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