Transgender Referendum Dies, Opponents Shift Focus

Group focuses on effort to put County Charter amendment on November ballot.

You can add the effort to force a law to the list of failed referendum efforts in Baltimore County.

Ann Miller, one of the leaders of a group focused on repealing the law at the ballot box, wrote in a email response to questions last week that "the petition effort did not meet the threshold, so it was not submitted to BOE on Monday.  This underscores the need for reform of the referendum requirements in the county."

"We are not skipping a beat as we move forward with the Charter Amendment petition and the two statewide Referendum petitions," wrote Miller, speaking of efforts to force the and plans to the ballot.

Miller, a Republican activist, said her group, which she described as grassroots, is now focused on changing the County Charter to .

The group has a website set up to provide information on the effort.

Baltimore County switched to its current form of government in 1956. There has never been a successful attempt to petition a county law to referendum.

Miller and others say that's because the bar is set too high.

The County Charter currently requires petitioners collect the signatures of registered county voters equivalent to 10 percent of the total number of county residents who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election—28,826 verified signatures, based on the 2010 election.

Petitioners have 45 days to collect the signatures. Some groups who have attempted to force laws to referendum say the process of getting petition language approved by the Board of Elections can take weeks.

The standard used by the county actually comes from the State Constitution which sets the number of signatures of registered voters needed for a statewide law at 3 percent but local laws require 10 percent.

Miller and her group want to see the local standard match the state standard.

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Paul Amirault April 16, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I disagree with Mike. In my view, what Ann wants to do is to make it easier for a small vocal group to get a hot issue on the ballot, as are the transgender and same sex marriage issues. These are two issues that I believe everyone would think will be a close vote. Close votes have the odor of a minimum majority trying to impose its will on a very large minority. That just stinks. That said, 10% is onerous. I can buy 5%.
Mike Pierce April 16, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I think 5% is about the right number to allow really big issues to be brought to referendum, but not open the door for everything to be challenged. (I think that's where California has gotten into trouble - making "propositions" too easy to get on the ballot.) Often a "small vocal group" is indicative of a larger following, but not always. 5% would show that it is not just a "small group" and would force a ballot which would really determine the support. As for the time limit, 45 dys might seem too short, but most bills are designed to take effect in 45 days, and that shouldn't be lengthened just in case some one might get the signatures to force a referendum.
Paul Amirault April 16, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Wow, agreed.
Mark Patro April 17, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I would agree with 5% if there is a clause added that civil rights laws are barred from referendum attempts. We should not vote on people's civil rights...ever.
Paul Amirault April 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Another thought as well, I might also want a 60% super majority for the referendum to pass. I would be seriously annoyed if a referendum were to pass at 51-49 or anything like that based on a even more ridiculous notion if only 40% of registered voters even bothered to vote.


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