Montgomery legislators on Tuesday authorized the county to proceed with plans to challenge a petition that could lead to the repeal of a recently enacted law scaling back the collective bargaining rights of the county’s police union.
The Montgomery County Council, in an 8-1 vote, appointed a local election law specialist, Jonathan S. Shurberg, as outside counsel to scrutinize thousands of pages of petition documents and about 34,000 signatures. Shurberg will be paid $225 per hour of service.
Earlier this month, county election officials concluded that the petition, which was circulated by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 police union and a petition-gathering firm it hired, drew enough signatures for a referendum next year on the law.
Passed unanimously by county legislators, the law took aim at “effects bargaining,” a process that allows the union to negotiate with county officials not only on wages and benefits but also over day-to-day duties, such as regularly checking e-mail.
In a complaint filed with Montgomery County Circuit Court on Monday, Shurberg and County Attorney Marc Hansen alleged that signature gathers had told people false, misleading or inaccurate information and that they improperly filled out petition documents.
At a council meeting Tuesday, legislators recounted stories of being solicited by petitioners and told exaggerated and inaccurate information about the law. They urged a quick review of petition documents. Council member George Leventhal (D-At Large) dissented, though he said in an interview that he still supports the law.