Still Fighting the Good Fight vs. Amendment 1

Written by Nancy Hayes

On November 8th of last year, Illinoisans went to the polls and voted on Amendment 1. This constitutional amendment passed on an official vote from Illinois citizens with a total of 2,212,999 yeses to 1,555,929 nos.

What is Amendment 1?

Amendment 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment that adds a new “constitutional right” for government workers to organize and collectively bargain. According to Wirepoints, Amendment 1 “cemented public sector union powers into the State Constitution.”

Amendment 1 also vastly expanded the “public union negotiating powers to include workers’ “economic welfare and safety,” giving Illinois government unions more power than any other unions in the country.

Pretty astonishing, right? Overall, as Wirepoints states,

“bargaining rights can’t be diminished. Illinois legislation is forever blocked from passing labor reform laws. Illinois cannot become a Right-to-Work state. Meaning that those in the private sector must continue to join unions as a condition of employment at unionized businesses.”

That would be enough…but there’s even more!

Most conservatives in Illinois recognize the following as consequences of Amendment 1 being added to our state constitution:

  1. Unions gain extreme anti-taxpayer powers.
  2. Illinois property taxes will go higher.
  3. Parents’ rights over their children’s education will erode.
  4. Private sector workers will become “second-class citizens.”
  5. Lawmakers will be stripped of their ability to pass labor reforms.
  6. Collective bargaining will become a “fundamental right” like freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
  7. Public sector negotiation powers will be locked into our state constitution.
  8. Illinois will be blocked from being able to become a “Right-to-Work” state, further damaging our ability to compete.

But the saga of Amendment 1 isn’t over yet, as it is being battled in court due to issues of noncompliance with state statutes. The fight continues because of a handful of patriots.

Patriots File a Lawsuit

The basis for a lawsuit is found in the way Amendment 1 was placed on the ballot on November 8, 2022.

First, when voters went to the polls to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment – there was no text of the proposed amendment on their ballot. Instead, voters were given what amounted to a paraphrase or interpretation of Amendment 1.

Therefore, Illinois voters were asked to vote “YES” or “NO” on a summary of this “Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Constitution,” NOT the actual TEXT of the proposed amendment.

How could Illinois citizens be expected to vote on a proposed amendment we weren’t even given the opportunity to read? Whether it makes sense or not, we did.

On November 19th, a complaint was filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections stating that the “Proposed Constitution Amendment was not placed on the ballot correctly according to Illinois State Statutes. In fact, not only was there NO TEXT on the proposed constitution amendment, but the amendment should have also been placed on a SEPARATE ballot as per the Illinois State Statute 5 ILCS 20/ which states,

“At the election the proposed amendment and explanation SHALL be printed upon a separate ballot in accordance with the provisions of Section 16-6 of An Act concerning elections.”

In addition, the proposed constitutional ballot MUST be labeled “Constitutional Ballot.”

I don’t know about you, but as a voter who was there that day, the text of Amendment 1 was not given to me. Neither was Amendment 1 placed on a separate, “Constitutional Ballot”.

There were also violations regarding the posting of the proposed Amendment 1 on the Illinois State Board of Elections website, as well as in the notification of voters. All voters should have received a postcard prior to voting on the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution.

It turns out that after five concerned citizens gathered sample ballots from 108 jurisdictions, not a single sample ballot was labeled “Constitutional Ballot,” as required by Illinois State Statutes.

On January 4, these same five concerned patriots filed a Verified Election Contest Petition with the 19th Judicial Circuit Court of Lake County. Case #23 MR 5, a petition for relief, was filed on the last possible day after the Election Contest for the Proposed Constitution Amendment was certified by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

These five patriots from Cause of America and Illinois Freedom Alliance are not requesting much. They simply expect a fair election in which voters know what they are voting on. The case was recently moved toward a hearing to be held in May, 2023.

Of course, the real question now is this: will the Illinois Attorney General defend the current Illinois State Statutes or will he turn a blind eye to the violations and support the unions? Time will tell.

Who Among Republicans Voted FOR Amendment 1?

It is a disturbing and appalling fact that some so-called Republicans voted “YES” on Amendment 1. In the Illinois State Senate, according to the roll call,  38 Democrats voted “YES” on Amendment 1, along with 11 Republicans. In the Illinois House, according to the roll call, 71 Democrats voted “YES” on Amendment 1, along with 9 Republicans. Three Illinois House Republicans voted “Present.”

Can someone explain why anyone would NOT vote on such an important proposed amendment? But even more importantly, why would a Republican vote “YES” on Amendment 1 – knowing it would raise taxes, limit parents’ rights, increase union power, and block Illinois as a “Right-to-Work” state?

Amendment 1 opposes individual liberty. It opposes limited government. It opposes workplace freedom and a competitive workforce. It is certainly NOT about fiscal responsibility.

One could argue that Amendment 1 allows for a myriad of outcomes that are anathema to the Republican Platform. So, why would ANY Republicans vote “YES” on Amendment 1?

Good question.

Let’s look at the example of two Illinois Republicans who voted “YES,” both of whom are actually in leadership roles: State Senator John Curran (R-Lemont) and State Representative Tony McCombie (R-Savanna).

First, Illinois Senator Curran represents the 41st District, which includes parts of DuPage and Cook Counties. Curran is also the Minority Spokesman for the Illinois State Senate. He won his general election as an incumbent on November 8, the same day Illinoisans voted on the flawed Amendment 1.

Curran’s history includes being a Vice-Chair of the DuPage County Board, as well as 19 years of experience as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County.

Curran’s website includes the following: “My goal is to encourage job growth by developing an efficient, transparent, ethical state government with less regulation and lower taxes.”

That doesn’t really make sense, since one could argue that Amendment 1 increases government regulation and taxes. But Mr. Curran voted “YES” for Amendment 1. Isn’t this a conflict of interest? Isn’t it in conflict with his own stated goal? Isn’t this amendment in direct opposition to Republican values – limited government, fiscal responsibility, and lower taxes?

Let’s take a closer look. Sometimes we can find the answers to our own questions by following the money.

In the last couple of years, donors to John Curran or Friends of John Curran have included: Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor Management PAC ($235,700), LIUNA Chicago Labors District Council PAC ($43,000), and even IUOE Local 399 Political Education Fund and IBEW Local 701 PAC. It’s telling that these same PACS or organizations were among the top contributors to Don Harmon, a democrat in the Illinois Senate. Two of these labor unions gave over $3 million each to Harmon.

Now, let’s look at another Republican leader who voted “YES” on Amendment 1: Illinois Representative Tony McCombie who represents the 89th District, which includes Dekalb, Winnebago, and a few other surrounding counties. She won reelection in 2018, 2020, and 2022 and a week after the November 8, 2022 election, when she voted “YES” on Amendment 1, she was elected to succeed Jim Durkin as the Illinois House Minority Leader.

Why would the Republican Minority Leader for the Illinois House vote “YES” on Amendment 1?

Good question.

Let’s take a look at some of McCombie’s top donors in the last couple of years: Chicago Land Operators PAC ($117,300), Illinois PAC for Education ($149,900), and other donors such as Manufacturers PAC, Illinois Federation Teachers COPE, and Illinois Retired Teachers Association PAC.

Who needs enemies when the top 2 leaders of the Republican Party in the Illinois General Assembly vote against the Republican Party Platform and for Amendment 1?

Thankfully, members of the Illinois Freedom Caucus voted “NO” on Amendment 1 – State Representatives Blaine Wilhour (R-Louisville), Adam Niemerg (R-Teutopolis), Chris Miller (R-Charleston), and Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville).

We, the citizens of Illinois, elect other citizens from our districts who we believe will represent us and our shared values and principles. If Republicans stand for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and lower taxes, can we honestly say Curran, McCombie, and the others represented our best interests by voting “YES” on Amendment 1?

The fight against Amendment 1 continues. Patriots, stand strong.