(The Center Square) – It will now be up to Illinois voters whether to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Illinois State Constitution. Some opposed the measure, saying the state is focusing on the wrong issues.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 11 passed the Senate last week. It passed the House Wednesday 80-30. Proposed constitutional amendments do not go through the governor. Voters will get their say in the statewide election in November 2022.

The measure would ban “Right-to-Work policies for the state of Illinois and local governments,” said House sponsor state Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago. The proposal “prevents the passage of any future law or ordinance that may diminish collective bargaining rights. It sets a bar that we will in the state of Illinois oppose Right to Work legislation.”

Just as the bill was called for a vote Wednesday, House Republicans requested an hourlong caucus.

Upon returning to the floor, Evans said places like neighboring Missouri are passing “these pitiful, ridiculous [right-to-work] laws are being pushed throughout the country.”

“Workers' rights will be prioritized in the state of Illinois,” Evans said. “We will bake it and we will make it permanent in the constitution of the state of Illinois that the rights of workers will be prioritized and not diminished.”

State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, asked where amendments were for term limits, recalling elected officials or ethics.

“It’s been a clown show with this redistricting, maybe we get a constitutional amendment on a fair map,” Batinick said.

He said looking at IRS data, there’s been a loss of 1 million people since 2000. They’re moving out of this state because Illinois doesn’t have a fair map, high taxes and mounting issues with corruption, he said.

“We are debating the wrong constitutional amendment, we’re trying to cover up our issues,” Batinick said.

Others shared breaking news reports on the House floor during the debate.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the former clerk of the House Tim Mapes was just indicted, just indicted, and again many of you will say nothing about the long-standing tradition of corruption in the state of Illinois,” said state Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport. “We have a trust problem in this state.”

He said that’s why the last proposed constitutional amendment for a progressive income tax failed on the ballot in November 2020.

“The corruption in this state is too great, the people keep getting indicted, and until we address the ethics reforms, nobody is going to want to live in this damn state and that’s the biggest crisis of our state right now,” Chesney said.

States that limit collective bargaining see a decline in wages and safety standards, state Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, said during the debate.

“The proposed amendment puts a floor on where we’re at right now,” Yednock said. “It’s good for your workers. It’s good for districts.”

Others asked if the measure would allow police and firefighters, or air traffic controllers, to strike, how the measure could impact government changes to pay periods or other employment issues, among other questions.

The measure cannot apply to the private sector, Evans said, saying federal laws regulate private sector employment.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.