Court of Appeals: County Has Right To Advocate Its Interest On Ballot Measure

The Court of Appeals ruled today in favor of Montgomery County, on a matter regarding the use of county resources to advocate on a ballot question. The county’s actions were contested by the local Fraternal Order of Police, as the matter involved bargaining rights for police employees.

From coverage in the Washington Post:

Maryland’s highest court ruled Tuesday that Montgomery officials had the authority to use taxpayer money and employees on county time to campaign for passage of a 2012 ballot proposition that limited certain collective-bargaining rights for police.

In a 39-page decision, the Court of Appeals said the campaign activities “were an authorized and proper manifestation of legitimate government speech.”

[the county authorized spending] up to $200,000 on mailings, bus ads, bumper stickers and other outreach to voters. County employees campaigned during work hours, according to testimony in Montgomery Circuit Court. Voters approved Question B — upholding the elimination of certain collective bargaining — by nearly 60 to 40 percent.

The full court opinion in Fraternal Order of Police v. Montgomery County is available online.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties