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Dec. 4, 2014

O'Malley legislation remains untouched

by James Sleigh, Online Sports Editor
Maryland's Nov. 4 gubernatorial election resulted in the passage of two statewide referendums, but for Republican voters, many more political and social issues were absent from the ballot. Despite the newly-elected Republican Governor Larry Hogan, Republicans couldn’t force veto referendums that would have challenged the legislation passed by Maryland’s current governor, Martin O’Malley.

The two measures on the ballot were related to government finance and county elections. Veto referendums on issues such as state non-discrimination policies for transgendered people, efforts for addressing redistricting and gun control laws were not included on the final ballot. The absence of these measures reflects Maryland's still-strong liberal base, and the general support of the policies passed under Governor O’Malley.

In the state of Maryland, there are two forms of direct democracy, where the people have an active voice in the policies adopted by the state: legislatively-referred constitutional amendments (LRCA's)—constitutional amendments on the ballot determined by the state legislature—and veto referendums.

The first ballot measure, an LRCA vote, was related to creating a transportation trust fund, and was passed with 81 percent of the vote. The second measure, also an LRCA vote, about special elections in the event of Chief Executive Officer or County Executive office vacancy, passed with 80 percent of the vote.

The veto referendum allowed voters to either ratify or reject a particular piece of legislation. For a referendum to be placed on the ballot, according to The Maryland State Board of Elections, "the petition must be signed by registered voters equal in number to 3 percent of the votes cast for Governor in the preceding Gubernatorial election," and must usually total around 55,000 signatures.

For some voters who elected Hogan, the ballot initiatives could not match Hogan's conservative platform. The veto referendum on the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2012 for greater transgender protection under the law, introduced by Delegate Neil Parrott (R-Washington County), gathered only 17,500 signatures, far short of the 55,000 mark. The veto referendum against the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 could not accumulate enough signatures to be considered on the ballot, falling 1,000 signatures short of the June 1 deadline that would have permitted gun control advocates to attempt to get the rest of the signatures before the election deadline.

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