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Questions dominate ballot

Gambling, marriage, collective bargaining and much more on the ballot next week

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Published on: Thursday, November 01, 2012

By Chris Hinkel

ROCKVILLE - In a few days Maryland voters will be hitting the booths to choose who they want to see in office for the next term.  Most registered voters have already decided which presidential candidate they’ll vote for, however there are other questions on the ballot that might slow up the voting process for people who are unfamiliar with them.  Here is an overview of the questions that will appear on the ballot in Montgomery County.

Question 1 - concerns the appointment of qualified judges to the Prince George’s County Orphans’ Court.  Voting “yes” on the question would support the amendment, which requires judges to practice law in the state of Maryland and be members in good standing of the Maryland Bar.  Question 2 is the same, except it pertains to Baltimore County.  

Question 3 - involves an amendment to the constitution which changes the point that an elected official is suspended or removed from office after committing a certain crime.  The current law dictates that an official is convicted upon sentencing.  Between the time that he is found guilty or pleads no contest and the time he is sentenced – which could be months – the official can continue in office.  The amendment proposes the suspension of the official immediately after the finding of guilt so that the official cannot stay in office while waiting for the appeal process to be over.  If the official pleads no contest he is removed immediately without the possibility of reinstatement.  

Question 4 – Refers to allowing certain individuals who have graduated from a Maryland high school to pay in-state tuition, and in some circumstances in-county tuition, at community colleges.  This would apply for immigrants, documented or undocumented, given that they have: (1) attended a Maryland high school for at least three years and earned a diploma, (2) proven that they, or their legal guardian, pays state income tax, (3) filed to become a permanent resident, (4) registered with the Selective Service System, and (5) registered with the community college within four years of graduating high school.  If an individual earns an associate’s degree under these conditions, the individual would then be eligible for in-state tuition at any public four year school in Maryland.  This Act also extends the time period for honorably discharged military veterans to apply for in-state tuition from one year after discharge to four years after discharge.  

Question 5 - Establishes new boundaries for Maryland’s eight congressional districts according to new census figures.  The redistricting affects the voting populations for the election of Maryland’s eight representatives for the United States House of Representatives.  To better understand the districting plan, go online and search for Maryland Congressional Districts 2012.  This will show voters which district they fall under and whether they think their voting population is accurately represented.  

Question 6-  puts forth the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would amend the current law, allowing civil unions between gay and lesbian couples.  The Act also protects religious institutions, maintaining that no religious order qualified to perform a marriage ceremony will be required to perform same sex marriage ceremonies.  It also states that religious institutions are not required to provide goods, services, accommodations, advantages or facilities if they are related to the celebration of a marriage that violates that religious institution’s beliefs.  

Finally, question 7 - pertains to gambling, and gaming expansion in Maryland.  The expansion would add another video lottery facility in Prince George’s County, expand the allowed number of video lottery terminals in Maryland from 15,000 to 16,500 and allow “table games” in each video lottery facility.  The primary purpose for the expansion is to raise revenue for Maryland schools.  Specifically, this revenue would fund (1) education for prekindergarten through grade 12, (2) construction of public schools and (3) construction of capital projects at community colleges and senior higher education institutions.

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