In addition to the choice of candidates facing voters Tuesday, there are a number of ballot questions for the voters to decide. All Maryland voters will consider 12 state questions, which cover such issues as budgetary powers of the governor and legislature, the power of local governments to appropriate private land through "quick-take" procedures and how council members should be elected in Prince George's Country.
Aside from the state questions, which are numbered 1 through 12 on the ballot, there are local questions facing voters in several suburban Maryland countries. Prince George's Country voters will have eight local issues to decides, Montgomery voters will have six local questions, and Howard County voters will have three. There are no local questions on the Charles or Anne Arundel ballots.
Following are the 12 statewide ballot questions.
QUESTION 1: LOCAL APPROVAL NEEDED FOR CERTAIN CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS.
Under current Maryland law,constitutional amendments that affect only one of the state's 23 counties or only Baltimore City must be approved by a majority of voters in a statewide election. If an amendment is approved in a statewide vote, it automatically goes into effect, whether or not the majority of voters in the affected jurisdiction approved it.
Approval of Question 1 would require that such issues be approved by a statewide majority as well as a majority of the voters in the affected jurisdiction.
QUESTION 2: ALLOWING FOR THE AUTOMATIC EXPIRATION OF SOME CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS.
This question, if approved, would provide a mechanism by which constitutional amendments designed only for a limited period of time can automatically lapse when that period expires.
Currently, all constitutional amendments, whether or not their language covers one year, three years or an indefinite period, cannot be removed from the constitutional amendment repealing them.
QUESTION 3: OBSOLETE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS.
At present, there are a number of obsolete, invalid or conflicting provisions in the state constitution. In 1972, voters approved a constitutional amendment that would allow such provisions to be removed from the constitution or corrected by one sweeping amendment. Question 3 is such an amendment. It does not permit any substantive changes in the constitution, only language modifications. The reference to unconstitutional provisions applies to those sections of the Maryland Constitution which conflict with the U.S. Constitution.
QUESTION 4: ELECTION OF PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBERS.
All 11 members of the Prince George's County Council now are elected in a countywide vote, although each of five council members are required to live in one of the five councilmanic districts in the county. If this amendment is approved, those five council members would be elected only by a majority of voters in their own councilmanic districts. The other six council members would continue to be elected by a countywide vote.
If approved, the change would take effect in the 1962 election, unless the county charter were changed in the next two years.
QUESTION 5: QUICK-TAKE CONDEMNATION PROVISIONS REPEALED FOR THE WSSC IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY.
This is the first of three statewide questions involving "quick-take" condemnation procedures. In 1972, Maryland voters approved a referendum allowing the General Assembly to pass legislation permitting the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to bypass existing constitutional requirements governing the takeover of private land by a public agency. Instead of taking a series of steps to settle on a price with the owner before taking possession of land - sometimes a lengthy process involving litigation the WSSC could use "quick-take" procedures to acquire land (but not buildings) in Montgomery County. Then, as now, the WSSC already has such authority in Prince George's County.
Under "quick-take" procedures, the public agency involved - in this case the WSSC - must determine that the property in question is needed for a public purpose, must condemn it and must pay the owner a fair market value, as determined by appraisal. If the the owner refuses to agree with the appraised value, the WSSC may pay that amount to a count and take the land, giving the owner additional payment later if the court so requires.
If Question 5 is approved, the General Assimbly would no longer have the constitutional right to pass legislation allowing the WSSC to use quick-take procedures in Montgomery County.
QUESTION 6: BUDGETARY POWERS OF THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE.
This question reflests the most recent development stemming from a contitutional confrontation between former Gov. Marvin Mandel and the General Assembly. In 1974, the General Assembly passed legislation setting payment levels for foster parents. However, Mandel refused to included the state funds needed for those payments in the budget he was preparing.
The Maryland Court of Appeals, in January 1977, ruled 4 to 3 that the governor in preparing his budget for the next fiscal year, was not bound by any laws passed by the General Assembly setting state spending levels. The court said the governor had to adhere only to state constitutional provisions in preparing the budget.
If passed, this amendment would require the governor to include in the budget, without revision, funds estimated to be necessary to meet specific funding levels the General Assembly has enacted into law.
QUESTION 7: QUICK-TAKE AUTHORITY FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY.
This is another "quick-take" question. (See Question 5.) In this case, approval of the constitutional amendment would authorize the Anne Arundel County Council to enact ordinances giving the county quick-take rights for specified tracts of unimproved land.
QUESTION 8: GOVERNING THE ISSUANCE OF THE STATES SHORT-TERM NOTES.
At present, constitutional provisions allow the General Assembly to pass laws atuhorizing the three-member Board of Public Works to direct the state treasure to issue and sell short-term notes in the state's name, only when it is anticipated that tax collections would offset the debt.
This amendment, if passed, would clear up linguistic inconsistencies in the present constitution and allow the treasure to issue notes in anticipation of other revenues aside from taxes - revenues such as federal grants.
QUESTION 9: TO ALLOW TEMPORARY REPLACEMENT OF STATE OFFICIALS.
This amendment is designed to allow a constitutional office, such as treasurer or comptroller, to be temporarily filled if the officeholder cannot perform his duties for a brief period of time. Laws passed last spring by the General Assembly provide for an acting treasurer and an acting comptroller these laws would go into effect if this amendment is approved.
QUESTION 10: CHANGING REQUIREMENTS FOR GIVING PUBLIC NOTICE OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS.
At present, ballot questions on constitutional amendments must be publicized in at least two newspapers in each county and three in Baltimore City once a week for the four weeks preceding the general election. This amendment gives the General Assembly the power to provide alternative or additional methods of notifying voters, including notices on radio or television or individually distributed pamphlets.
QUESTION 11: ALLOWING SALARY CHANGES FOR CERTAIN STATE OFFICIALS.
Under current Maryland law, the salary of a public officer, elected or appointed, mau not change during his term of office unless that term exceeds eight years.
If this amendment is passed, the salary of any public official whose term exceeds four years could be increased or decreased during his term. Fifteen state officers would be affected by the change, ranging from insurance commissioner to Public Service Commission members to tax court judges.
QUESTION 12: QUICK-TAKE AUTHORITY IN CHESTERTOWN AND CECIL COUNTY MUNICIPALITIES.
This is the final question on the ballot concerning quick-take procedures for condemnation (See Question 5.) The governing bodies affected are Chestertown in Kent County and municipalities in Cecil County.
Approval of this question gives quick-take powers of Chestertown when it needs land for the extension of municipal water, sewer and storm drain facilities, and gives additional quick-take powers to municipalities in Cecil County to condemn land needed for storm drains.