What the Maryland referendums mean

On Nov. 6, Marylanders will be asked if they accept or reject four proposed changes to state law. Here are summaries of what the legislation means for residents.

Question 4: Dream Act

WORDING ON THE BALLOT: Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.

WHAT IT MEANS: This legislation would allow certain undocumented immigrants living in Maryland to pay in-state tuition rates at state community colleges, and four-year public colleges and universities. To be eligible, undocumented students must prove that they attended Maryland high schools for at least three years; they intend to apply for permanent U.S. residency: and they or their guardians filed state income tax returns. The impact on the state is not clear -- taxpayers would offset the loss in tuition revenue for community colleges; public universities would be on their own to cover their losses. Officials say that Dream Act students would not take slots away from in-state students and probably represent less than one percent of the state's overall college population.

Question 5: Redistricting

WORDING ON THE BALLOT: Establishes the boundaries for the State’s eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.

WHAT IT MEANS: Question 5 on Maryland's November ballot asks voters to affirm or reject the way Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Democrats in the General Assembly used census data to redraw the state's eight congressional districts for the next 10 years. The map has been criticized for splitting minority communities in Washington area suburbs to position a Democrat to win the GOP-held 6th District. Statewide, the plan will give at least 1.6 million people a different representative in Congress.

Click here to view congressional district boundary changes

Question 6: Same-sex marriage

WORDING ON THE BALLOT: Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

WHAT IT MEANS: This measure would allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain civil marriage licenses. Maryland legalized same-sex marriage this year, but the law is on hold pending the outcome of the referendum.

Click here to view same-sex marriage recognition nationwide

Question 7: Gambling expansion

WORDING ON THE BALLOT: Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate “table games” as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum number of video lottery operation licenses that may be awarded in the State and allow a video lottery facility to operate in Prince George’s County?

WHAT IT MEANS: Gambling expansion in Maryland would mean construction of a new casino in Prince George's County and allowing existing slots-only casinos to also offer table games such as blackjack and roulette. Passage of the referendum also would give larger tax breaks to existing casinos as compensation for the added competition. Projections regarding job creation and increased taxable revenue for the state are squishy, and a taxable revenue increase may not offset the increase in casino tax breaks. State mandate requires that 48 percent of taxable revenue from casinos go to the Maryland Education Trust Fund, set up in 2007 to provide education aid to local jurisdictions. But the amount of money going to the fund may not necessarily exceed the mandated amount.

SOURCES: Maryland State Board of Elections, staff reports. GRAPHIC: The Washington Post. Published Oct. 10, 2012.