Election 2020: A Few More Questions

The referendum questions which appear on our ballots are often misunderstood and overlooked by voters, but they’re an important part of the electoral process. They bring to voter scrutiny questions the County Charter of the State Constitution say are beyond the scope of powers granted to the legislatures. In 2020, there are three Howard County-specific questions on the ballot. There are also two Statewide questions. HCGOP.org reached out to County Councilman David Yungmann, Delegate Warren Miller and Diana Waterman of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women for some additional information.

Question A:

“Changing the Howard County Charter to allow the County Council to set dates for drawing new Council district borders. After each official count of everyone who lives in the County, the Council would quickly form a redistricting commission and set dates for the commission to submit a plan for new Council district borders, and for the plan to become law if the Council does not adopt a different plan. The dates for these actions are now set by the County Charter, which uses an outdated State election schedule.”

Councilman Yungmann explains:

“Our timelines for redistricting had to be moved up to accommodate the new primary election schedule in Maryland.  We used to have June and September primaries but now have April in Presidential years.  Early voting also moves the date up.  The goal is to get redistricting done as soon as possible after the census is available so people who want to file as candidates know what districts they are in.”

Question B:

“Changing the Howard County Charter to shorten the term a resident would serve as a member on most County boards from five years to three years.”

Councilman Yungmann explains:

“Five years is a long commitment for people to make which some believe discouraged participation.  [The Council] wanted to shorten the time commitment for those potential volunteers.”

Question C:

“Changing the Howard County Charter to prohibit employment discrimination by Howard County based on a person’s disability, color, national origin, immigration status, age, occupation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,family status, or personal appearance. The prohibition would no longer include the word sex and the County could still not make an employment decision based on a person’s political or religious opinions or associations or race.”

Councilman Yungmann explains:

“County hiring policies have more protective hiring/employment practices than what is reflected in the Charter.  This change will conform the Charter to existing hiring policies.”

Specifically, Question C provides for changing the Charter to use the word “their” in place of “his or her” when referring to individuals. It also adds to the list of characteristics which may not be taken into consideration as a basis for hiring. Currently, that list is limited to political opinions or affiliations, religious opinions or affiliations, race and sex. Question C would remove the word “sex,” and add disability, color, national origin, immigration status, age, occupation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, and personal appearance.

Update: Governor Hogan has issued a statement opposing Question 1 and supporting Question 2. Click here to read the Governor’s positions.

Question 1:

“The proposed amendment authorizes the General Assembly, in enacting a balanced budget bill for fiscal year 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter, to increase, diminish, or add items, provided that the General Assembly may not exceed the total proposed budget as submitted by the Governor.”

Delegate Miller says:

“Most Republicans in the Maryland General Assembly opposed this bill because it removes some of the Governor’s budget authority and gives that authority to the General Assembly. This is a unfavorable trend for Maryland Taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for the General Assembly’s ever-increasing need spend more money annually.”

The Federation of Republican Women says:

“MFRW RECOMMENDATION:  VOTE “AGAINST” Question 1— Constitutional Amendment (Ch. 645 of the 2020 Legislative Session) State Budget Process. 
“This amendment to the Maryland State Constitution is unnecessary.  The Constitution already requires the budget to be balanced between estimated revenues and expenditures.
“The purpose of this amendment is to increase the power of the General Assembly by allowing them to add new items or increase the amount of an item in the Executive Department’s budget, thereby enabling them to change the priorities of the executive agencies under the purview of the Governor.  They can already reduce or eliminate an item in the Governor’s budget but not increase or add items.
“The impact of this amendment to increase the authority of the Legislature and reduce the authority of the Governor with regard to the budget will be extensive, particularly when the Governor and a majority of the State Senate and House of Delegates are from different political parties or are from small vs large population jurisdictions.
“The power of the largest counties will be increased and that of the smaller, more rural counties will be diminished.  For instance:  The “Big 3” – Montgomery County, Prince George’s and Baltimore City/County will be able to change the priorities for transportation spending by reallocating funds from roads and bridges to mass transit without negotiating with the Governor.  The same could be true for education or telecommunications, etc.
“The Legislature has not shown itself to be fiscally responsible under its current authority.  Every year they pass bills with spending mandates, that require specific expenditures in future budgets, without regard to whether the state or its people can carry additional financial or tax burdens.   Approximately 85% of the State’s budget is currently mandated.”

Question 2:

“Do you approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

Delegate Miller says:

“This bill allows for ‘Sports Book’ wagering in Maryland and allows Casinos and other organizations the ability to accept wagers on sporting events. This bill will generate more revenue for the School Funding Lockbox and will allow Maryland to compete with neighboring states that have recently enacted similar laws.”

The Federation of Republican Women takes no official position on Question 2.

The Baltimore Sun has advised voters to vote against Question 2, citing a need for more information about how wagering would work. Reason Magazine, while taking no position for or against, has raised the same concern.

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