Petition group eyes batch of bills to send to ballot in Maryland


Question 6 on Maryland's ballot last year was on same-sex marriage. (Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters)
April 10, 2013

MDPetitions.com, a group that played a leading role in putting three Maryland laws on the ballot last year, has started polling people about which measures passed in the just-concluded legislative session should be subject to petition drives in coming weeks.

In its online poll, the group lists eight bills from the the 90-day session that wrapped up Monday.

Five bills sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) are among them, including measures to step up restrictions on guns, repeal the death penalty and provide a system of subsidies for an offshore windfarm.

Also included: legislation to implement the federal health care law in Maryland; and a measure to expand early voting and allow same-day voter registration, which MDPetitions.com argues would expand voter fraud.

The other potential targets are bills that would allow illegal immigrants to get limited driver’s licenses; give teacher unions more power to collect fees; and make changes to the referendum process. The latter bill appears not to have passed.

In a recent interview, Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington), chairman of MDPetitions.com, said the organization plans to use the poll results to decide which measures to pursue. He said the group would also consider whether there is the potential for a sustained campaign on each issue heading into the fall.

Two of the measures successfully petitioned to last year’s ballot — laws to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants under certain circumstances and to redraw the state’s congressional map — generated little campaign activity by opponents prior to November.

Voters upheld those two laws, along with another allowing same-sex marriage.

“The lesson learned is it’s not just enough to get something on the ballot,” Parrott said. “You have to have a sustained campaign.”

If opponents are successful in gathering enough signatures by June 30, the laws in question would be put on hold pending a statewide vote in November 2014.

On the final day of session, O’Malley told reporters that he is hopeful voters would ratify any laws sent to the ballot.

“The people of our state are very smart and fair,” O’Malley said. “You can’t fear that.”

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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