Maryland casino operators wanted table games; those in neighboring states would rather we kept it to slots. So, with well-moneyed, vested interests on both sides of the expanded gambling referendum — which, as you probably know, passed — the battle became “by far” the most expensive political campaign in Maryland history, topping $93 million.
This story ran its course pretty quickly. Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo’s visible support of gay marriage in Maryland caught the attention of Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., who wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti on August 29 asking him to “inhibit such expressions from [his] employee.”
With the law up for referendum in November, a coalition of clergy, unions, and at least one university president has formed to uphold the Maryland Dream Act, which would grant in-state tuition rates to (gasp!) “illegal immigrants.”
The group, though it draws from the religious and the secular, left and right, faces an uphill battle. The law is very controversial — more than twice the required number of signatures was reached pretty handily in a Republican-led petition to put it on the ballot as a veto referendum — but should it be?
If you haven’t voted in a while, you’ll have the chance to really get your fill this November. In addition to electing the president, one senator, and our entire slate of representatives in the House, Marylanders will consider three constitutional amendments (concerning Orphans’ Court judge qualifications and circumstances under which an elected official may be removed from office), and veto referendums on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants (who meet certain criteria), same-sex marriage, and now, likely, the state’s gerrymandered congressional districts.
Maryland hasn’t seen a veto referendum since 1992. The rules haven’t changed (you need a number of signatures equal to three percent of voter turnout in the last gubernatorial election — right now that’s 55,736), but as Republicans have discovered, the Internet has made the signatures much easier to collect.
In November, in addition to choosing the president of the United States, Maryland voters will have plenty to decide. The controversial Maryland Dream Act has already been placed on the ballot; gay marriage almost definitely will join it; and now it looks like our state’s absurdly gerrymandered congressional districts may be next.
Del. Neil C. Parrott, the visionary Republican signature-driver that put the Dream Act on the ballot — and got his party psyched about the referendum as a viable political tool — has begun a petition to let voters decide if they want to keep their congressional map looking like a jigsaw puzzle for the criminally insane, or reject it. His petition carries the compelling slogan, “DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE TO YOU?”
If Parrott gathers 55,736 valid signatures by June 30, it will be on the ballot in November. If voters reject the current congressional districts either the legislature or the courts would need to redraw them, and they would take effect in 2014.
Some of you may be wondering, for all the hoopla, how bad Maryland’s congressional districts really are — compared to the other states, say. Bad. Maryland’s 2nd and 3rd made it onto Slate’s picture gallery of the 21 most gerrymandered congressional districts in the country in December 2011.