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Laws governing local ballot measures in Maryland

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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Maryland Constitution
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Articles

Declaration of RightsIIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXI-AXI-BXI-CXI-DXI-EXI-FXI-GXI-HXI-IXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIIIXIX

In Maryland, all 157 incorporated municipalities and the 9 charter counties have a mandated initiative process for local ballot measures, specifically proposed charter amendments.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Maryland. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.

Types of local government

Local government in Maryland consists of 23 counties and 157 incorporated municipalities (cities and towns that have been incorporated with a charter). In addition there are 167 special districts.[1]

Further classifications:

Counties may be organized and governed by:

  • County commissioners, of which there are 8. They are Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary's, Somerset, and Washington.
  • Code home rule, of which there are 6. They are Allegany (1974), Caroline (1984), Charles (2002), Kent (1970), Queen Anne's (1990), and Worcester (1976).
  • Charter, of which there are 9. They are Anne Arundel (1964), Baltimore (1956), Dorchester (2002), Harford (1972), Howard (1968), Montgomery (1948), Prince George's (1970), Talbot (1973), and Wicomico (1964).[2]

Cities and towns are treated as a single class by state statutes, with the exception of Baltimore which has laws specific to it. Cities and towns gain their legal status by incorporation through a charter. All local services in unincorporated areas are provided directly by the county.[3]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Maryland

Under Maryland law, all new bonding for school districts and extensions to tax levies must be approved by County Board of Commissioners that oversees the county where the district is located. Maryland, Nevada, and South Carolina are the three states that structure their school districts at the county level rather than individual municipalities. The only part of the state that requires bond elections is Baltimore County. Only the County Executive of Baltimore County can call for a bond election. Maryland is one of nine states, along with the District of Columbia, that restrict school bond and tax elections.

Initiative process availability

  • All 9 charter counties have a mandated initiative process for charter amendments.
  • All 157 cities and towns have a mandated initiative process for charter amendments. State laws make no mention of initiative for ordinances, and cities do not appear to have authority to grant this power on their own.[4]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

Municipal home rule powers and municipal charter amendment by initiative are granted in Maryland Constitution, Article XI-E. Art. XI-E, Sec. 4 states: "The adoption of a new charter, the amendment of any charter or local laws, or the repeal of any part of a charter or local laws shall be proposed either by a resolution of the legislative body of any such municipal corporation or by a petition containing the signatures of at least five per cent of the registered voters of a municipal corporation and filed with the legislative body of said municipal corporation. The General Assembly shall amplify the provisions of this section by general law in any manner not inconsistent with this Article."

The city of Baltimore and charter county charter amendment by initiative are granted by Maryland Constitution, Article XI-A, Section 5. "Amendments to any charter adopted by the City of Baltimore or by any County of this State under the provisions of this Article may be proposed by a resolution of the Mayor of Baltimore and the City Council of the City of Baltimore, or the Council of the County, or by a petition signed by not less than 20% of the registered voters of the City or County, provided, however, that in any case 10,000 signatures shall be sufficient to complete a petition. A petition shall be filed with the Mayor of Baltimore or the President of the County Council. An amendment so proposed shall be submitted to the voters of the City or County at the next general or congressional election occurring after the passage of the resolution or the filing of the petition. If at the election the majority of the votes cast for and against the amendment shall be in favor thereof, the amendment shall be adopted and become a part of the charter of the City or County from and after the thirtieth day after said election. The amendments shall be published by the Mayor of Baltimore or President of the County Council once a week for five successive weeks prior to the election in at least one newspaper published in said City or County."

Statutes

The process for municipal charter amendment by initiative is prescribed in Maryland Code Article 23A, Sections 11 to 18 (most requirements are found in Section 14).

A guide to local ballot initiatives
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DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Maryland Code Article 23A, Sections 11 through 18

Initiative process features in incorporated municipalities

The initiative process features for charter amendment in incorporated municipalities can be found in the Maryland Constitution, Article XI-E and the Maryland Code, Article 23A, Sections 11 to 18.


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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
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Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in Maryland
City[5] Population City Type Next election
Baltimore 619,493 Charter 2015
Frederick 66,169 Charter N/A
Rockville 62,334 Charter N/A
Gaithersburg 61,045 Charter N/A
Bowie 55,232 Charter N/A
Hagerstown 39,890 Charter N/A
Annapolis 38,880 Charter N/A
College Park 30,587 Charter N/A
Salisbury 30,484 Charter N/A
Laurel 25,346 Charter N/A

The top 10 most populated cities are subject to the state-set initiative process for charter amendments detailed above.



External links

See also

References