Maryland news archive
On March 26, Maryland's board of elections voted unanimously to impose stricter standards for referendum petition drives, in order to lower the numbers of invalid signatures. According to the Baltimore Sun, "under the new rules, people signing petitions must use either their full name, including middle initials, or sign their name exactly as it appears on election board voting rolls. In addition, a printed name required on a petition must exactly match the accompanying signature."
Turf Valley off ballot
In Howard County, Maryland, elections officials have disqualified the Turf Valley Grocery Store Veto Referendum, 2009 based on considerations arising from Jane Doe v. Montgomery County Board of Elections, which disqualified the Montgomery County Gender Identity Referendum (2008).
O'Malley supports amendment to end death penalty
Maryland Governor Patrick O'Malley said in January 2009 he will do "everything in my power" to abolish the death penalty in Maryland in 2009. He raised the possibility of putting a constitutional amendment before the state's voters.
Update: Equality Maryland sues CRG
Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) has reported that they have turned in over 32,000 signatures, 27,000 which have proved to be valid signatures. This qualifies the measure according to the election board. Now Equality Maryland has filed lawsuit against it.
Transgender non-discrimination law to be put before voters
Montgomery County voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to uphold broad protections for transgender individuals passed by the County Council in November 2007.
Opponents of the measure contend it could lead to indecent exposure in locker rooms. County officials say Citizens for Responsible Government filed sufficient valid signatures to place a referendum on the November 2008 ballot.
Proponents of the measure, which would prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, are scrutinizing the signatures and intend to challenge the referendum in court this week.
This is the first referendum against a council initiative to make it onto the Montgomery County ballot since 1994.
The law was to have taken effect Feb. 20, 90 days after Leggett signed it, but the referendum effort stopped its implementation. The measure was passed over the objections of a coalition of religious and community groups that said it would allow a cross-dressing biological male to gain access to a women's locker room at a health club.
Even though the legislation was approved unanimously by the council, elected officials received thousands of emails and phone calls urging them to reject the bill. Opponents were troubled by how the measure would apply to facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms.
The bill's sponsor, council member Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), said Montgomery followed 13 states, the District, Baltimore, and 90 other local jurisdictions in passing legislation to ban discrimination against transgender people. Officials in cities with similar protections on the books have said the laws have not been exploited for criminal activity. Trachtenberg said she expects voters "will reject discrimination and confirm their unwavering support for the human rights and dignity of transgender individuals."
"The misinformation being put out about this law really troubles me," Council President Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) said. "We guaranteed that certain people in our county will have the same rights as other residents—and that is all we did.."
Michelle Turner, a spokeswoman for Citizens for Responsible Government, said the group has lined up assistance from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal group, to defend against expected legal challenges. "They've got a big fight on their hands," she said.
- Baltimore Sun, "Tougher rules imposed on petition drives," March 27, 2009 (dead link)
- Turf Valley referendum halted after review of signatures, March 13, 2009
- Baltimore Sun, "O'Malley vows to work to end death penalty," January 16, 2009
- Gazette.net, Group defends signatures collected in petition drive, March 19, 2008
- Washington Post: "Transgender Law Opponents Put Measure on Ballot," March 9, 2008