Good morning -
This week I have some information regarding local projects, election info and a rundown on the 2022 constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot when early voting begins next week - October 27th before Election Day - November 8th.
Rundown on Constitutional Amendments
There are five Constitutional Amendments on the ballot for voters to decide. Four of them have not gotten much attention at all. I've had people reaching out asking for information and guidance. The following ballot initiatives will be on every Maryland voter’s ballot when they cast their vote next month:
Question 1 - Changes the name of Maryland’s appellate (top appeals) courts from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Maryland and from the Court of Special Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland.
Most states title their top courts as the State Supreme Court and their special appeals court as "Appellate Court". We've called ours how they currently are for hundreds of years. I'm a traditionalist at heart and I didn't really think we needed to change the names but it's a relatively non-political question.
Question 2 - Amends the Maryland Constitution to require that state legislators reside and maintain a place of abode in the district in which they wish to represent for six months prior to the date of election.
This is actually a good amendment in my view, unlike some questions we've had in Maryland in recent years. This would make it very clear that state legislators have to live in the district that they represent. Currently it's the law that you reside in your state legislative district but the definition of "residing" is extremely loose, to the point where there have been cases of politicians having a couch in a room that they nominally rent, or an out building where they receive mail and calling that their residence. This amendment will provide more clarity and ensure that a Delegate or Senator really does have to live in their district to represent it.
Question 3 - Amends the Maryland Constitution to increase the amount in controversy in civil proceedings in which the right to a jury trial may be limited by legislation from $15,000 to $25,000.
This raises the level of funds that have to be at stake in the civil lawsuit in order to get a jury trial from $15,000 to $25,000. This amount has not been changed for a couple of decades so it's party to keep up with inflation but also an attempt to keep the court process moving quickly. Based on my knowledge and what I've learned about the court system, I think it probably makes sense. Jury trials are expensive and long - and lock up the courts. A judge being able to adjudicate smaller claims in a timely fashion is good for everyone.
Question 4 - Amends the Maryland Constitution to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana and direct the legislature to pass law for the use, distribution, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.
I have discussed this issue in the past - I do not support legalizing so-called recreational marijuana. While I've supported medical marijuana, the legalization fully will lead to more access and more use. I understand the libertarian argument about pot but when we legalize something fully, we send the signal it's okay to use it or do it.
Whether you agree with me or not on this issue, there's one more thing you should know. This amendment would legalize recreational use before the legislature makes the rules and regulations. The General Assembly put this on the ballot - and if it passes it becomes legal fully in July of 2023. We'll have to pass an entire regulatory and legal framework in the January-April 2023 Legislative Session - so voters are voting to legalize marijuana but not being told what the structure around it - including taxation, regulation and penalties for violations will be.
Question 5 - Repeals county elections of Howard County orphans’ court judges and requires the Howard County Circuit Court judges to sit as the orphans’ court for Howard County.
Although this may seem like a local issue to Howard County, since it deals with the Circuit Court, the state has to have the final say. Under this amended law, a party could no longer appeal a final judgment of the Howard County Orphans Court to the Howard County Circuit Court and would instead take an appeal directly to the Court of Special Appeals. It's a bit of an oddity that it has to be voted on statewide. I have no strong recommendation here - it seems odd to take away the local nature of appealing a ruling to the local circuit court.
Election Judges Needed in Carroll County & Election Info
Carroll County needs 128 more judges to reach its 477 election judge goal. For additional information or to apply, visit https://elections.carrollcountymd.gov/judgeInfo.aspx.
General Election Day is November 8, 2022
• Make sure you, your family, and your friends are registered to vote. The deadline to register and update your information is October 18.
• Your voter registration information dictates which ballot you receive, where you vote, and where your official election mail is sent
• VOTE EARLY – Vote early to make sure your vote counts. From Thursday, October 27, 2022 through Thursday, November 3, 2022 (including Saturday and Sunday). Early voting centers will be open from 7 am to 8 pm.
• Vote On Election Day if you haven't already voted!
State Funding Secured for Little Pipe Creek/Dickenson Run
On Wednesday, October 12, 2022, the Board of Public Works approved a request to provide a $94,031 grant to Carroll County from Rural Legacy Funds for the acquisition of a 24.96 acre conservation easement in the Little Pipe Creek Rural Legacy Area. Acquisition of this easement will protect valuable farmland and 1,623 linear feet of forest buffer along tributaries to Dickenson Run, a tributary to Little Pipe Creek, The easement will be held by Carroll County.
Westminster - MD Route 27 at Main Street Road Closure - Begins This Friday (Five Days)
Please be aware of the upcoming temporary road closure at the intersection of MD Rte. 27 and Main Street in Westminster beginning October 21, 2022 to replace the railroad crossing in connection with Maryland Midland Railway. This closure is expected to last at least four (4) days with an expected reopening date of October 25, 2022. During this time period, vehicle traffic will be detoured. Drivers should prepare for some delay when traveling through this area. Additionally, this project will cause partial lane closures at this intersection potentially through October 28, 2022.
I do appreciate the railroads and State Highway Administration working with the city of Westminster as well as my office to ensure that this necessary road work was done in as timely a fashion as possible and minimized disruption during weekdays. Originally the shutdown was planned for much longer and this is an important and busy intersection.