Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum, Question 4 (2012)

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In-State Tuition Referendum
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Type:Veto referendum
Referred by:Citizens
The Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum, also known as the Dream Act Referendum, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Maryland as an initiated veto referendum, where it was approved. The referendum allowed voters to decide whether the law would be upheld.

The legislation in question was approved by both houses of the Maryland General Assembly during the 2011 legislative session. Senate Bill 167 would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state or in-county tuition at Maryland colleges.[1] However, in order to qualify students are required to have attended a Maryland high school for three years, as well as prove that their parents or themselves filed taxes. Initially, students that qualify would have to attend a community college. However, after two years, the students can transfer to a four year university. According to reports, the legislation is estimated to cost $3.5 million by 2016.[2][3]

The bill was signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley on May 10, 2011.[4] However, as of July 22, 2011 the Maryland Secretary of State has confirmed that referendum supporters met the state's petition signature requirement and the measure was on the 2012 statewide ballot. The law will remain pending vote results.[5]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results
Maryland Question 4
Approveda Yes 1,521,579 58.9%
Official results from the Maryland Secretary of State.

Text of measure

The ballot measure read as follows:[6]

Question 4

Referendum Petition
Public Institutions of Higher Education – Tuition Rates (Ch. 191 of the 2011 Legislative Session)

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.

For the Referred Law

Against the Referred Law


The bill was supported by immigrant advocacy groups such as Casa de Maryland.[7] Kim Propeack, advocacy director for CASA de Maryland, argues that if the petition effort to qualify the proposed referendum is successful, it would "throw plans for many undocumented immigrants who graduated from Maryland high schools this spring into limbo and leave college out of reach for many financially."[8]

Governor Martin O'Malley emailed supporters asking for donations to help raise money for Educating Maryland Kids, a coalition group opposing the referendum.[9]


Sen. Victor Ramirez, sponsor of the legislation, said the proposal "gives kids the opportunity to go to college and be treated like all other Maryland high school graduates." In response to the proposed referendum, Ramirez said immigrant advocates and other supporters of the legislation plan to educate voters and ensure that submitted petition signatures are valid.[10]

Tactics and strategies

  • Opponents of the proposed referendum launched a site called One Maryland Defense. According to the site, they requested reports of signature gathering locations so that they could send a representative to the location.[11][12]
  • The group Educating Maryland Kids was a coalition of organizations that support the DREAM Act. The group was founded as an advocacy group for the bill and plans to canvass communities for support, focusing on the benefits of an educated workforce.[13]


The information listed below pertains to opponents of the DREAM Act and supporters of the referendum efforts to repeal it.


On June 9, 2011 the Baltimore County Council issued a statement and signed a letter in support of the referendum efforts. According to reports, the letter was signed by five of the seven members county council members. Supporting council members include Todd Huff, Vicki Almond, Cathy Bevins, David Marks and Council Chairman John A. Olszewski Sr..[15][16]


  • Brad Botwin, director of the group Help Save Maryland, said the group advocated "the overturn of the bill so priority isn't given to students who could be deported. That," he said, "would be a wasted investment."[17]
  • "This bill has implications of millions of dollars and will potentially deny citizens a chance to go to the University of Maryland," said Sue Payne of Rally for America.[18]
  • GOP Chairman Alex Mooney wrote in an email in late April 2011 that the party supports the petition drive. Mooney said the issue was "too important to be decided by a small group of legislators" and that the state "cannot afford these unnecessary benefits for illegal aliens." Mooney previously voted in favor of a similar measure in 2003. The bill was vetoed by then Governor Robert Ehrlich. According to reports, Mooney stated that the 2003 was a broader and different version. Mooney has signed the referendum petition and has stated that he did not support the 2011 legislation.[19]
  • Del. Joseph Minnick said he supported the referendum so "...voters across the state can say yes or no to a law that would cost Maryland millions just as we’re recovering from one of the worst economic crises in state and national history. And no matter how supporters of the DREAM Act spin it, these millions of dollars in college tuition would go to men and women who reside in our state illegally. There’s no way around that. This year in Annapolis, a substantial number of constituents—and others who do not live in our district—called my office to voice their strong opposition to this measure."[20]
  • Brad Botwin, executive director of Help Save Maryland, called the act a "a nightmare for taxpayers." Botwin estimated that the cost per student over four years would be about $40,000, the projected difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. Furthermore, Botwin argued that undocumented immigrants who graduate could still not hold jobs in Maryland.[13]

Tactics and strategies

  • Supporters of the proposed referendum launched The site served not only as a website in support of the proposed measure but also as a method to circulate initiative petitions and donate to the effort. Petitions can be found here. (dead link)
  • On May 2, 2011 state delegates and local residents gathered at Kaufmann's Tavern in Gambrills, Maryland (Anne Arundel County) to kick off the petition drive.[21]
  • The group Help Save Maryland has announced that they plan to launch a campaign against the bill and will focus on the financial aspect of its implementation.[13]


See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures

A poll released during mid-January 2012 by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies found that 48 percent of respondents supported the Dream Act, while 49 percent opposed it. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The chart below reflects this data as it relates to the Dream Act itself.[22]

  • A September 25-27, 2012, poll of 804 registered voters, conducted by the Baltimore Sun, found that 39% of Maryland voters are in favor of the Dream Act; while 47% of Maryland voters are opposed it, and another 14% are undecided. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5%.[23]

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
Jan. 9-15, 2012 Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies 48% 49% 3% 808
Sept. 25-27, 2012 Baltimore Sun 39% 47% 14% 804


See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012

Possible signature lawsuit

According to reports, it was highly likely that the proposed measure may face a lawsuit following the June 30, 2011 petition deadline. Of the initial batch of signatures, it is estimated that approximately 17,000 were gathered online via a website called

According to state law, signatures can be rejected if they do not match voter rolls. According to reports, the website had an online tool that prints a voter's name and information as it was listed in the registration records. The voter was then required to sign the petition and mail it to the Board of Elections.[24]

"We believe that the state board of elections needs to make a decision about online systems, and if they are going to be used, how they can conform to state law, because we do believe the system being used by is not in compliance with state elections law in addition to being susceptible to fraud," said Meredith Curtis, a spokeswoman for the ACLU of Maryland.[25]

The American Civil Liberties Union has already reached out to Maryland officials asking that the online tool be scrutinized for any possible errors. However, it is expected that a lawsuit may still be filed to challenge the submitted petitions.[24]

Doe v. Maryland State Board of Elections

On August 1, 2011 Casa de Maryland filed a lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against the proposed measure. The lawsuit argued that more than half of the collected petition signatures were collected illegally.[26]

Specifically, plaintiffs argued two points. The process of collecting signatures was ripe for fraud considering that signers used a website,, to download and print voter information. "If I know your birth date and where you live, your ZIP code, assuming you live in Maryland, I can put in your name, the computer program will print out a form with everybody’s name who lives in that household who is registered to vote. I can sign your name and have other people sign those other names, and no one would know the difference because the signatures aren’t checked against anything," said Joseph Sandler, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney working for Casa of Maryland.[27]

Neil Parrott, chairman of the petition group, said, "This fraud that they’re saying could exist has always existed in every petition drive. What they’re saying is there are not petitions that could exist in Maryland."[27]

Additionally, plaintiffs argued that the state tuition law cannot be subject to referendum because the Maryland Constitution prohibited referendums on laws that maintain or aid a public institution.[28]

On September 22, 2011 Judicial Watch announced it would represent the organizers of the petition drive. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, "There is no question that the Maryland DREAM Act should be put to a referendum. The illegal immigration lobby simply wants to keep Maryland voters from having their say on the issue."[29]

A motions hearing was scheduled for the end of January.

On December 8, 2011 it was announced that the challenge against the petition signatures collected by was dropped. However, the challenge of whether the law was subject to veto referendum remained pending.[30]

Sandler, attorney working for Casa of Maryland, said, "This is exactly the kind of law that Maryland keeps off the ballot because it leads to disruption of Maryland programs, which is exactly what is happening here." In response to the continued challenge, Delegate Patrick McDonough, who helped lead the petition effort, said the act is not an appropriations bill because it does not set spending within the state budget. "We felt from the beginning that was their weakest argument. And it seems to me that it’s their last desperate position that they have," he said.[31]

A hearing was held on Friday, January 27, in the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court before Judge Ronald A. Silkworth. At the hearing both sides asked Judge Silkworth to rule on the legal matters of the lawsuit without holding a trial, saying it is only the interpretation of the law that is being contested, not the facts of the case.[32]

On Friday, February 17, Judge Silkworth ruled that the Dream Act does, in fact, meet the requirements for legislation that can be subject to a referendum. According to the Maryland Constitution, fiscal appropriations are not subject to referendum, however, Judge Silkworth ruled that the costs of the bill are incidental and not its main intent.[33]

Path to the ballot

See also: Maryland signature requirements

In order to qualify a veto referendum on the statewide ballot, a minimum of 55,736 valid petition signatures must be submitted by June 30, 2011. The state's distribution law requires that no more than half of the required signatures be from any one county or the City of Baltimore.

According to state law, the deadline to submit the first third of signatures for a veto referendum in Maryland is 40 days after the legislation is signed into law[34][35]

Signature timeline:

  • May 31 - a third of the required signatures were submitted. Supporters of the referendum said they had more than sufficient signatures. "We have over 40,000," said Del. Neil C. Parrott, the Washington County official who is leading the petition drive.[36]
  • June 7 - the state Board of Elections announced that they validated 21,919 of the first batch of signatures the group submitted.[37]
The first batch of signatures included:[38]
  • 17,092 gathered via a website
  • 30,196 gathered by volunteers.
  • July 7 - Election officials verified 63,118 signatures; qualifying the measure for the 2012 statewide ballot. However, the measure has not been officially certified for the ballot. Signatures remain to be verified.[40]
  • July 22 - The proposed referendum was officially certified for the 2012 statewide ballot.[41][42]



The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
Bill May 10, 2011 Gov. Martin O'Malley signed SB 167 into law
Signatures June 7, 2011 state Board of Elections validated 21,919 of the first batch of signatures the group submitted
Petition deadline June 30, 2011 The state petition drive deadline was June 30, 2011 at midnight
Signatures July 7, 2011 Election officials verified 63,118 signatures; qualifying the measure for the 2012 statewide ballot
Certification July 22, 2011 Officially certified for the 2012 statewide ballot
Lawsuit filed Aug. 10, 2011 Casa de Maryland filed a lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against the proposed measure
Lawsuit hearing January 2012 A motions hearing is scheduled for January 2012
Vote Nov. 2012 A vote on the proposed veto referendum is scheduled for November 2012

SCOTUS ruling on in-state tuition

On June 6, 2011 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state of California could continue granting reduced, in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant college students. The ruling upholds California Supreme Court's 2010 ruling that said the state law was legal. The court argued that the in-state tuition was based on a student's graduation from a California high school, not on their citizenship. However, opponents argued that the reduced rate was indicative of preferential treatment, which they argued violated federal law. According to reports, a total of twelve other states follow similar practices.[43]

See also


External links

Additional reading



  1. The Baltimore Sun, "Lawmakers approve tuition break for undocumented immigrants, new sales tax on alcohol," April 12, 2011
  2. The Baltimore Sun, "Delegate to challenge in-state tuition measure," April 18, 2011
  3. The Washington Examiner, "Md. law granting illegals reduced tuition to cost millions," April 17, 2011
  4. The Washington Post, "O’Malley signs immigrant tuition bill," May 10, 2011
  5. Ellicot City, "DREAM Act Now in Hands of Maryland Voters," July 22, 2011
  6. Maryland State Board of Elections, " 2012 General Election Ballot Question Language," accessed August 21, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Capital, "Opponents of illegal immigrant tuition bill launch petition drive," April 27, 2011
  8. The Washington Post, "Immigrant tuition law may stall in Maryland," June 28, 2011
  9. Washington Post, "Martin O’Malley seeks donations for tuition referendum," May 1, 2012
  10. The Washington Post, "Opponents of Maryland immigrant tuition bill say referendum plan is on track," May 3, 2011
  11. One Maryland Defense, "Contact," accessed June 28, 2011
  12. The Capital, "Was your signature rejected?," June 27, 2011
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Capital News Service, "Advocates and opponents of in-state tuition bill gearing up for November," February 10, 2012
  14. Hispanically Speaking News, "DREAM Act Foes in Maryland Plan to Sue and Others Want Ballot Referendum," April 26, 2011
  15. Perry Hall Patch, "Council Majority Supports Repeal of In-state Tuition for Illegal Immigrants," June 8, 2011
  16., "County Council statement of support for petition against Dream Act," June 9, 2011
  17. WTOP, "Opponents of Md.'s Dream Act circulate petition," April 23, 2011
  18., "Illegals In-State Tuition Petition Drive Underway in MD," accessed April 28, 2011
  19. The Washington Post, "Md. GOP leader voted for earlier version of immigrant tuition bill," May 5, 2011
  20. Dundalk, "Put the Maryland Dream Act to Referendum," June 14, 2011
  21. Pasadena, "Kipke Endorses Beginning of Petition Effort On Tuition Bill," May 3, 2011
  22. Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies, "Maryland Survey, January 2012," January 18, 2012
  23. Baltimore Sun, "Poll finds support for same-sex marriage, but not gambling," September 29, 2012
  24. 24.0 24.1, "DREAM Act Could Stall in Maryland," June 29, 2011
  25. 25.0 25.1 Associated Press, "Illegal immigrant tuition bill in Maryland delayed from taking effect due to petition drive," June 29, 2011
  26. The New York Times, "Immigrant Advocates File Suit on Petition Signatures," August 1, 2011
  27. 27.0 27.1, "Next up in Dream Act battle: a lawsuit," August 1, 2011
  28. The Washington Post, "Court to decide if immigrant tuition law goes to Maryland ballot," August 1, 2011
  29. The Baltimore Sun, "National group joins in-state tuition battle," September 22, 2011
  30. The Washington Times, "Maryland immigrant group drops petition challenge," December 8, 2011
  31. The Washington Times, "Maryland immigrant group drops petition challenge," December 8, 2011
  32. Baltimore Sun, "Debate over vote on immigrant tuition moves to Arundel court," January 27, 2012
  33. Takoma Park Patch, "'Dream Act' Referendum Survives Legal Challenge," February 20, 2012
  34. Confirmed with Maryland State Board of Elections via phone on 1-28-2011
  35., "Petition Drive to Repeal In-State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants Gets Underway But New Signature Guidelines Needed," April 17, 2011 (dead link)
  36. The Baltimore Sun, "In-state tuition opponents: We have the signatures," May 31, 2011
  37. The Baltimore Sun, "Repeal drive moves forward on tuition for illegal immigrants," June 7, 2011
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 The Baltimore Sun, "Opponents of tuition break for illegal immigrants near petition goal," June 22, 2011
  39. Associated Press, "Tuition bill foes confident in petitions," June 30, 2011
  40. The Capital, "Tuition foes gather enough signatures," July 10, 2011 (dead link)
  41. Associated Press, "Md. elections officials set to certify petition on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants," July 22, 2011
  42. The Baltimore Sun, "Immigrant tuition referendum officially makes ballot," July 22, 2011
  43. Los Angeles Times, "Supreme Court ruling on California immigrant tuition rates could affect other states' policies," June 7, 2011