Ballot questions

Endorsements

Maryland Votes 2006

October 31, 2006

Today, The Sun continues its endorsements for the Nov. 7 general election with statewide and local ballot questions.

Statewide

One week from today, Maryland voters must decide a number of ballot questions, including four statewide issues. The Sun supports all four:

Question 1: A constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Board of Public Works from selling excess state-owned property without specific approval from the General Assembly.

The proposal arose from the Ehrlich administration's attempt to sell protected, environmentally sensitive land in St. Mary's County to a politically connected developer two years ago. Some Republicans initially opposed the measure, but Mr. Ehrlich's decision to support it last year has generally squelched such opposition.

Question 2: A constitutional amendment changing the procedure by which certain court decisions may be appealed to the Court of Special Appeals. It is not considered controversial.

Question 3: A constitutional amendment limiting the right of a jury trial in civil proceedings to cases where at least $10,000 in damages is at stake.

Vote for all three constitutional amendments.

Question 4: This legislation making changes to Maryland election law was petitioned to the ballot for voter referendum. It gives the state elections administrator greater authority to intervene when local elections offices are found not to be doing their jobs. It also requires the State Board of Elections to make decisions by at least four of five members, a protection for the out-of-power party. A more controversial provision of the bill specifying how the state would conduct early voting was rendered moot by a court decision that found early voting unconstitutional. Vote for the referred law.

Anne Arundel County

Questions A, B and C: Vote for these proposed charter amendments that strip out obsolete provisions in the charter and conform procedures relating to the Board of Appeals to state law.

Baltimore

Questions A-H: Vote for this package of bond bills that would authorize about $120 million in borrowing that would finance economic development projects, school renovations and maintenance, renovations to the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, affordable housing and upgrades to city parks and cultural institutions.

Questions I-L: Vote for these charter amendments that would establish a compensation panel to set salaries for elected officials, allow for a housing trust fund in the city budget, permit multiyear contracts for firefighters and expand arbitration rights for city workers who now must bring challenges to disciplinary actions to a three-member civil service panel.

Baltimore County

Questions A-I: Vote for these bond bills authorizing $249.3 million to finance school construction, parks maintenance, public works and community college improvements, land preservation and economic development and to operate county buildings.

Howard County

Questions A-C: Vote for these charter amendments that would make housekeeping changes in the charter and establish a binding arbitration system to resolve police and firefighter contract disputes. The latter would give Howard County unions rights afforded other unions in neighboring jurisdictions.

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