Statewide Ballot Questions Pass Comfortably

Unofficial results from the Maryland State Board of Elections point toward all five statewide ballot questions passing by comfortable margins.

Maryland voters considered five statewide ballot questions on the November 8 ballot. To appear on the ballot, constitutional amendments require approval by three-fifths of the membership of the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates.

Question 1

According to unofficial results, 73 percent of Maryland voters endorsed this measure.

Question 1 renames the Maryland Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Maryland and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland.

In addition, it would change the name of a Judge of the Court of Appeals to a Justice of the Supreme Court of Maryland and the name of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Maryland. It would also change gendered language in the amended section to gender-neutral language.

Background

Maryland and New York are the only states that do not refer to their state’s top court as a “supreme court.”

Question 2

According to unofficial results, 89 percent of Maryland voters endorsed this measure.

Question 2 would require that state legislative candidates maintain a primary residence in the district that a candidate wishes to represent for at least six months before an election. If approved, a candidate could not run for office in a district where they maintain a temporary or part-time abode.

The law would also change gendered language in the amended section to gender-neutral language. It would take effect on January 1, 2024.

Background

Currently, state legislative candidates are required to be:

  • At least 25 years of age to run for the Senate or at least 21 years of age to run for the House of Delegates
  • A citizen of the state
  • A resident in the state for at least one year before the election
  • A resident in the district the candidate wishes to represent for at least six months before the election

Question 3

According to unofficial results, 62 percent of Maryland voters endorsed this measure.

Question 3 would amend the Maryland Declaration of Rights to increase from $15,000 to $25,000, the minimum amount in controversy that guarantees a right to a jury trial in civil cases. Currently, a party may not demand a jury trial if the amount in controversy does not exceed $15,000, exclusive of any attorney’s fees if the attorney’s fees are recoverable by law or contract.

Background

In 1992, voters approved Questions 3 and 4, establishing a $5,000 minimum in controversies to guarantee a right to a jury trial for civil proceedings. This amount was increased to $10,000 in 2006 when voters approved Question 3. In 2010, voters approved Question 2, which increased the minimum from $10,000 to $15,000.

Question 4

According to unofficial results, 66 percent of Maryland voters endorsed this measure.

Question 4 would amend the Maryland Constitution to add a new article, Article XX, which would authorize individuals 21 years of age or older to use and possess marijuana. Question 4 also allows the Maryland General Assembly to “provide for the use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of cannabis within the state.”

Background

Currently, marijuana is legal for medicinal use in Maryland under a 2013 law. In April 2014, Maryland decriminalized possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana.

During the 2022 session, the Maryland General Assembly passed companion legislation, Chapter 26 – House Bill 837, which alters various provisions of law applicable to the use, possession, and distribution of cannabis, contingent on the approval of this constitutional amendment.

2023 Proposed MACo Legislative Initiative: Adult-Use Cannabis — Revenue Sharing and Local Opt-Out Authority

The State will take up a multi-pronged regulatory and taxation framework for adult-use cannabis following the likely passage of Question 4 this November. The legislatively referred constitutional amendment would amend the Maryland Constitution to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis and direct the General Assembly to pass laws for the use, distribution, regulation, and taxation of cannabis.

County governments – who meet regularly year-round and are deeply immersed in the community – are in the best position to manage local affairs. Local decision-makers are elected to serve community needs, their actions are subject to broad constituent and stakeholder input, and they are directly accountable to voters.

As such, any framework must recognize each county’s right to opt out of retail or cultivation within its bounds – consistent with previous legislation introduced in the General Assembly and in most states where adult-use cannabis is legal. Further, any revenue structure placed onto the newly legal products must provide meaningful support for the county governments responsible for the various front-line services most affected by the new laws.

Should the State legalize adult-use cannabis, MACo advocates for the General Assembly to frame implementing legislation with local discretion for facilities and a reasonable local revenue structure to offset local service demands.

Read more about MACo’s proposed 2023 Legislative Initiatives here.

Question 5

According to unofficial results, 66 percent of Maryland voters endorsed this measure.

Question 5 would repeal a requirement that Howard County voters elect Orphans’ Court judges. Instead, the Howard County Circuit Court judges would serve as Orphans’ Court judges. The amendment would also remove the election requirement of three orphans’ court judges in Howard County from the state constitution.

Background

The primary function of the Orphans’ Court is to supervise the management of estates of people who have died – with or without a Will – while owning property in their sole name.

In 1964, voters approved a constitutional amendment to require Montgomery County Circuit Court judges to serve as orphans’ court judges and eliminate the election of orphans’ court judges. In 1972, voters approved a constitutional amendment to require that Harford County judges serve as orphans’ court judges and eliminated the election of orphans’ court judges.

County Ballot Questions

Across Maryland, voters considered several ballot questions concerning county governance and structure. Read more about county ballot questions here.

MACo’s election coverage and analysis rely on unofficial results published by the State Board of Elections. Official results will follow after a full accounting of pending votes. MACo advises readers that any close unofficial results are subject to realignment in the days ahead.

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