Chicago residents want gun dealers to be certified by the state, a ban on plastic straws and revenue from legalized marijuana funneled into public schools and mental health services.
When residents took to the polls Tuesday, they got to have their say on issues ranging from marijuana revenue — if it ever becomes legal in Illinois — to property tax exemptions. However, many of the referendums were advisory — the type of ballot measure often used by politicians to drum up support or even distract from other issues.
Chicago residents also likely recall photos of former Gov. Pat Quinn traveling across the city as he collected petition signatures for two questions that voters got to have a say on — term limits for the office of Chicago mayor and an elected consumer advocate. And while those two questions did end up on the ballot, the public won’t immediately see the results because the questions are being examined in the courts.
Here are the results of questions posed to citywide voters:
An overwhelming majority of voters — 88 percent — voted in favor of revenue from the sale of marijuana being used to provide funding for Chicago Public Schools and mental health services. However, the referendum was advisory, meaning the decision won’t trigger any immediate action. During the March primary election, 73 percent of city voters approved legalizing marijuana, according to data from the Chicago Board of Elections.
Since 2015, Illinois has allowed limited sales of cannabis for medical use, but it’s only available for people who have one of about 40 conditions such as cancer or fibromyalgia. Changes could be coming to Illinois, however: J.B. Pritzker, who defeated Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday night, has expressed support for marijuana legalization.
Plastic straw ban
Most Chicago voters think there should be a ban on the use of plastic straws, with 55 percent voting yes, according to the Chicago Board of Elections. This question was also advisory.
Across the country and in Chicago, the use of disposable plastic straws has been criticized. However, people with disabilities have raised concerns about the ban.
Property tax exemptions
Chicago residents also voted in favor of a tax break for homeowners, with 79 percent voting in favor of the advisory referendum, according to the election board. The question posed to voters comes after intense scrutiny over the process of assessing properties in Chicago.
A sharp majority of Cook County voters — 90 percent — were in favor of a referendum to “strengthen penalties for the illegal trafficking of firearms and require all gun dealers to be certified by the state,” according to the Cook County clerk’s office. In Chicago, an even higher percentage — 92 percent — of residents favored the referendum.
Rauner last month said he would veto legislation that would require state licensing of gun retailers. But Prtizker on the campaign trail said he would sign the gun dealer licensing bill.
Cook County voters are in favor of their municipality matching a county sick time law. The measure stems from a county ordinance passed in 2016 that calls for employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. Nearly 86 percent of county voters were in favor of this referendum, according to the Cook County clerk’s office.
About 80 percent of Cook County voters were in favor of a referendum in favor of having muncipalities match the county’s $13 minimum wage. The county had passed an ordinance in 2016 that raised the minimum wage to $13 an hour, but municipalities were given the option to opt out.
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