State questions

November 01, 1990

Maryland voters face three ballot questions next Tuesday, two proposed amendments to the state constitution and a constitutional question. Questions 1 and 2, the amendments, deserve passage. Question 3 does not.

Question 1 is largely a housekeeping measure, clarifying state law in regard to the ability of state and local officials to serve in the military reserves.

Question 2 would bring Circuit Court clerks' offices under the administrative and budgetary oversight of the state's judiciary branch. It is a sensible move that would bring badly needed uniformity and stability to clerks' offices around the state. Because the clerks' budgets would be determined by the state's chief judge, they would be protected from cuts imposed by the governor. That is a reasonable trade-off for the loss of some of their authority to hire and fire courthouse employees.

Question 3 is trickier. The state constitution requires that the "sense of the voters" must be taken every 20 years on the question of rewriting the constitution. But after the state's experience in 1967 -- when a convention wrote a new constitution that was rejected by the voters -- a consensus seems to have developed that the best way to update the current document is with amendments. So far, that process has worked reasonably well, and we see no need for a constitutional convention. We therefore suggest a vote against Question 3.

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