Court of Appeals Overturns Montgomery Referendum Case

An October 1 article discusses a Maryland Court of Appeals holding that could have a significant impact on both State and local referendums.

In a 5-2 ruling Wednesday, the appellate court overturned a lower court decision to prevent voters from deciding whether the county should charge a fee for ambulance rides. The question on ambulance fees now will appear on Montgomery County ballots in the Nov. 2 general election.

At this point it is unclear what effect the decision will have on referendums in Maryland, but the court’s opinion, which could be issued in several months, will determine any changes on how petition signatures for ballot questions are validated, said Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for the state Board of Elections. …

At the heart of the case was the election board’s interpretation of rules for qualifying signatures from registered voters. The standards, which stem from a 2009 court case, required signatures in favor of ballot questions statewide to match voter registration records exactly, or meet other specifications.

The appeals court ruling will prevent Montgomery County from collecting about $14 million in ambulance fee revenue, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said Thursday.

Leggett said the loss of revenue increases the size of the county’s fiscal 2012 budget shortfall, which already stood at $145 million.

September 30 Washington Post article

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