Counties Concerned Over Election Law Preemption Case

A July 15 Baltimore Sun article discusses a potentially sweeping local preemption issue that has arisen during the ongoing slots litigation in Anne Arundel County.  MACo supported the efforts of concerned counties to file an amicus curiae brief with the Maryland Court of Appeals arguing against the preemption.

Anne Arundel County is asking the state’s highest court to throw out a judge’s decision that state election law overrules local counties, a request that if granted could cause some contested petition signatures to be rejected in an ongoing battle over a proposed referendum on slots at Arundel Mills mall.

The county’s brief, filed Tuesday by county attorney Jonathan A. Hodgson, addresses only the narrow issue of jurisdiction over referendums and does not weigh in on the overarching issue of the legality of the referendum. …

In the brief, supported by four other Maryland counties — Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Montgomery — Hodgson said the judge’s ruling “would … erode the long-standing authority of charter counties to establish their own policy and to self-govern.”

The county brief only challenges the preemption decision – it does not deal with the broader issue of the location of slot machines.

“I would like to make it very clear that in filing this amicus brief, it is not our intention to take one side or another in the larger question of whether or not the bill should go to referendum,” said Hodgson. “It would be inaccurate for attorneys for either side to make more of our brief than that.”

Circuit Court Opinion

Circuit Court Order

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