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Maryland Politics
Posted at 08:36 PM ET, 07/17/2012

Montgomery officials discuss local referenda

People with significant disabilities may soon get help in finding work in Montgomery County.

County Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) has said he wants to create a special county hiring authority to recruit and employ people with significant disabilities in county positions. But he couldn’t do so without a charter amendment, which must be approved by county voters.

The County Council on Tuesday took a key vote to put the issue on the November ballot. The unanimous straw vote was nonbinding, but the County Council traditionally does not change views after straw votes are cast.

Andrew’s proposed charter amendment was among several referendum proposals reviewed by county officials on Tuesday.

After holding a closed session on the referenda, the County Council decided in public session not to discuss two potential referendum questions proposed by Republican activist Robin Ficker. One question would challenge an unpopular energy tax increase that was expected to sunset this year. The other would abolish collective bargaining rights of county employees.

Also Tuesday, County Council member George Leventhal (D-At Large) said in an interview that he has withdrawn a charter amendment to create a separate revenue source for fire and rescue services. Unlike county property taxes, the fire tax would not be capped by inflation.

The proposal was in response to a county bill that revives a countywide ambulance fee struck down by referendum in 2010. Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association, a vocal opponent of the fee, announced that it will challenge the law again.

Volunteer firefighters have said they supported Leventhal’s charter amendment. But Leventhal said Tuesday that a majority of his colleagues did not.

By  |  08:36 PM ET, 07/17/2012

 
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