Maryland

Maryland

The right to referendum is the basic democratic right of the people to appeal a government legislative action through petition and the power of the vote. As a former citizen activist and a current elected official, I wholeheartedly support this right.

Referendum returned to Maryland last November in the form of three ballot questions seeking to do away with recently passed laws in the Old Line State.  The efforts came to naught as the ballot questions failed, but the three questions were unique in the fact that in the last 20 years only one previous referendum had graced the ballot in Maryland.

Past petition drives had tried and failed to make the ballot, but a new online petitioning website MDPetitions.com, sponsored by Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott, made it easier for citizens to refer laws in the state by petition.

For the first time in 20 years, Maryland voters had a chance last November to decide whether major legislation passed by state lawmakers would become law, thanks largely to the help of an online tool that made it easier to submit valid signatures in referendum petition drives.

The sudden appearance of three ballot questions after two decades without any made some in Annapolis talk about referendums becoming a regular feature on Election Day, giving outnumbered Republicans a new way of battling against the Democratic majority in the Maryland General Assembly.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and some lawmakers even mentioned the possibility of raising the bar from the verified 55,736 signatures needed to trigger a referendum.

Opponents of a measure to repeal the death penalty in Maryland said Friday they fell short of their goal to collect enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in the 2014 election.

Del. Neil C. Parrott, one of the leaders of the effort, said about 15,000 signatures were collected since the beginning of May. That number fell short of the nearly 18,600 certified signatures required by the Friday deadline.

Friday’s deadline was the initial hurdle. A total of about 55,750 certified signatures were needed by the end of June for the issue to go to a voter referendum.

“We did not have enough (signatures) for the first turn-in,” said Parrott, R-Washington. “The groundswell that we needed … wasn’t there.”

Maryland resident Sue Payne has laid the ground work to create a referendum petition to put to a vote the Old Line State’s new laws relating to gun control. Payne plans to use a website so residents can download and sign the petition to attempt to get the measure on 2014’s ballot.

The petition would need to have 55,000 verified signatures  into the State Board of Elections by the end of June.

Maryland’s residents successfully put 3 referendums on the ballot in 2012. A number of bills to make the referendum process more difficult were defeated in the legislature earlier this year.

Read More: Here

A Montgomery County woman says she is planning a petition effort to get Maryland’s gun control bill put to a popular vote.

Sue Payne tells WBAL-AM (http://bit.ly/15tnCCe ) that she hopes to have a website up so voters can download and sign petitions to get the bill on next year’s ballot.

Payne decided to act after opponents of the bill decided on a court challenge rather than a referendum petition.

Read More: Here

Meanwhile, in Maryland, voter referendums are taking over! They must be stopped! Too many, too soon! Help!!!
 
At least, that’s what the Democrats leading the Free State – the governor, House speaker and Senate president – have all claimed during this legislative session, as several bills have been proposed to make the referendum process much more difficult, through cumbersome new rules and regulations (House Bill 493 and Senate Bill 673) and by jacking up the number of signatures required on petitions (Senate Bill 706).
 

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. last week conceded the obvious: Legislation to obstruct the petitioning of new laws onto the ballot ”” specifically, the brazenly misnamed Referendum Integrity Act ”” is going nowhere this year.

Still, Miller, talking to Maryland Reporter, couldn’t resist taking up the issue once again.

 

Referendums, he now says, were “taken to the extreme in the last election … We don’t need every issue subject to referendum ”” that would weigh down the democratic process, and make long lines at the polling place.”

Maryland’s House Bill 493 is not dead yet asserts Election Law Subcommittee Chairman Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County), a co-sponsor.  However, the bill is currently mired in his subcommittee with Cardin conceding that the bill needs amendments for “stakeholders” to consider its passage, and that the chances of it moving forward in the 13 days left in the legislative session have “decreased.”

The chairman of the election law subcommittee handling controversial changes to the referendum and petition process said Tuesday that the bill isn’t dead, despite the fact that it awaits action by the subcommittee and would need numerous amendments to make it palatable to stakeholders.

But with just 13 days left in the 90-day session, Election Law Subcommittee Chairman Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, conceded, “The chances of it moving have decreased.”

“No action has been taken,” Cardin said in a phone interview. “We’ve been trying to work with all of the different stakeholders to come up with something that we could all work with.”

Laws in 2012 prompted Maryland’s first statewide ballot referendum in 20 years, allowing marriage equality, the Dream Act and congressional redistricting to be upheld by voters.

And if those who don’t agree with Maryland’s likely ban of the death penalty try to get voters to reverse it, a new bill could create obstacles for them and other citizens looking to petition state laws to ballot, lawmakers say. Legislation by Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, would demand several things from those circulating petitions to force a ballot issue.

It would require the sponsor to form a ballot issue committee, which is a campaign finance entity, for each law that is challenged.

The conservative group Judicial Watch has asked the Court of Special Appeals to overturn last November’s referendum on a new congressional redistricting map for Maryland, contending the wording of the ballot question was misleading.

Backed by Del. Neil Parrott’s MDPetitions.com, Judicial Watch filed an appeal of a Circuit Court decision last year upholding the wording. The plaintiffs asked the appeals court to require a new election using different ballot language.

The General Assembly approved the new map drawn up by Gov. Martin O’Malley and Democratic legislative leaders in a special session in 2011.

A national voter rights group is targeting Montgomery County Democrat, Delegate Eric Leudtke’s  assault on the right to petition, with a mailer.

Citizens in Charge, a national voters rights group is sending a targeted mailer to Leudtke’s legislative district to educate his constituents about the assault on their rights.
House Bill 493 is misnamed ”˜The Referendum Integrity Act.’ It should accurately be called ”˜The Referendum Suppression Act,’” said Citizen’s in Charge president, Paul Jacob in a statement.

Maryland’s Constitution provides recourse, the referendum, to those who believe bad laws are on the books or new laws are necessary. The general idea is, let’s put it to a vote.

The process for getting a referendum question on the statewide ballot begins with gathering a certain number of signatures on a petition. Enough signatures, and the ballot question becomes one of your choices on Election Day.

But what about those signatures Who gets to sign How are the signatures to be gathered Who can gather them How many are necessary Two bills before the General Assembly address these questions. If passed, they would put up possibly insurmountable obstacles to the referendum process.

Today, Citizens in Charge released a mailer sent to residents of Montgomery County, Maryland Delegate Eric Leudtke’s district informing citizens of the destructive impact Leudtke’s House Bill 493 will have on the state’s citizen referendum process.

“Delegate Leudtke’s bill, filled with new rules, regulations and signature disqualification penalties, will effectively stop the public’s ability to use the petition process in Maryland,” said Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge.