Regrettable That Referendum Bill Failed in General Assembly

The following letter to the editor was published here in the Howard County Times.  

10:55 AM EDT, August 14, 2014

I found your editorial “Referendum process should be in hands of people, not courts” very interesting.  You ask the two candidates for Howard County Executive to pledge their support for fixing the referendum process.  As one of the candidates for county executive, I was surprised that you did not include in your editorial my efforts during the most recent General Assembly session to protect the right to referendum.

In 2013, the Howard County Board of Elections (BOE) denied the FixHoCo referendum based upon a determination that the petition language was not a fair and accurate summary of the legislation being challenged.  It is important to note that FixHoCo requested an advance determination of the legal sufficiency of their petition language and the BOE would not give such a determination.

After learning the details of what happened to FixHoCo’s referendum, I filed Senate Bill 848, which would require local boards of election to provide an advance determination of petitions for referendums prior to the collection of signatures as is currently required for statewide referendums.  This was a bipartisan effort with Senators Kasemeyer and Robey co-sponsoring my legislation.

Unfortunately, we did not get any support for SB 848 from the county executive or the County Council.  Neither testified at the Senate committee hearing or provided written testimony supporting SB 848.  Although SB 848 was never given a vote by the senate committee, I was able to successfully transfer the language from SB 848 onto another bill that was passed by the Senate.  Regrettably, the House of Delegates did not take up the legislation prior to the end of the session.

I am a firm believer in the right of referendum.  Other than voting to elect representatives, the right of referendum is the best way for the people to exercise control over elected officials and their government.   Regardless of the substance of any referendum petition, I will fight with my last breath to ensure that the citizens have the right to have the final say on whether a bill is enacted.

As Howard County Executive, I will continue to work with my friends and former colleagues in Annapolis to fix the referendum process.  That is my pledge to the citizens of Howard County.

Allan Kittleman
State Senate, candidate for Howard County Executive

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