I have not taken time to write about the various ballot questions Howard County will vote on in the upcoming 2020 General Election and after a couple of questions from readers I thought it might be a good idea to put those questions online this morning.

Here are the Statewide questions you will see:

Question 01

Constitutional Amendment (Ch. 645 of the 2020 Legislative Session)

State Budget Process

The proposed amendment authorizes the General Assembly, in enacting a balanced budget bill for fiscal year 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter, to increase, diminish, or add items, provided that the General Assembly may not exceed the total proposed budget as submitted by the Governor. (Amending Article II Section 17 and Article III Sections 14 and 52 of the Maryland Constitution)

Explanation from an article on WAMU:

The proposed amendment to Maryland’s Constitution would allow the General Assembly to increase, decrease, or reallocate funds in the governor’s proposed budget each year starting in 2024. Maryland is one of the only states where the legislature does not have the authority to do this;  legislators currently only have the ability to subtract money, not increase or reallocate it. Proponents say this measure would provide legislators and their constituents with more power to control the budget process. Opponents say it would merely offer lawmakers a chance to direct more money to their own districts; “pork-barrel” spending, if you will.

Question 02

Commercial Gaming Expansion Referendum (Ch. 492 of the 2020 Legislative Session)

Expansion of Commercial Gaming – Sports and Event Wagering

Do you approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?

Explanation from an article on WAMU:

The question is whether or not Marylanders would like to legalize sports betting to raise money for K-12 public education. Gambling is already legal across casinos and horse tracks in the state; this measure would add on sports betting, which is already legal in D.C. and is likely to become legal in Virginia also.

Gambling interests are pushing for sports betting to be made legal, as are prominent team owners. Earlier this year, the Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder lobbied both the Maryland and Virginia state legislators to incentivize them to legalize sport betting. If a majority of Marylanders agree by approving this ballot question, Snyder may decide to build the team’s new stadium — and a sports betting facility — in the parking lot of FedEx Field in Prince George’s County.

In March, the Senate voted for a sports betting bill, 47-0. Under the law, a licensee would have needed to pay a one-time application fee of up to $2.5 million and renew it annually at an additional charge. Licensees could also include horse racing tracks, casinos and other sports stadiums. According to the bill’s fiscal note, it could generate up to $20 million a year — money that would go towards public education.

Here are the HOWARD COUNTY questions you will see:

Question A

Charter Amendment

Redistricting Dates

Changing the Howard County Charter to allow the County Council to set dates for drawing new Council district borders. After each official count of everyone who lives in the County, the Council would quickly form a redistricting commission and set dates for the commission to submit a plan for new Council district borders, and for the plan to become law if the Council does not adopt a different plan. The dates for these actions are now set by the County Charter, which uses an outdated State election schedule.

Explanation from an article on WAMU:

The question would change the dates for drawing new district borders for the county council. The old dates to redraw borders were based on a September primary in Maryland; the new dates would be based on a June primary. The process to change districts remains the same: the council appoints members of a redistricting commission who make recommendations about the new districts. The council can choose to accept the recommendations or come up with its own plan.

Question B

Charter Amendment

Citizen Board Term

Changing the Howard County Charter to shorten the term a resident would serve as a member on most County boards from five years to three years.

Explanation from an article on WAMU:

If a majority of county residents mark yes on this question, it would shorten the time a resident has on any county board to three years, down from the current five.

Question C

Charter Amendment

County Employment Discrimination

Changing the Howard County Charter to prohibit employment discrimination by Howard County based on a person’s disability, color, national origin, immigration status, age, occupation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family status, or personal appearance. The prohibition would no longer include the word sex and the County could still not make an employment decision based on a person’s political or religious opinions or associations or race.

Explanation from an article on WAMU:

One of the most significant charter amendments for the county updates the anti-discrimination language in the charter to make clear that the county prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s disability, color, national origin, immigration status, age, occupation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family status, or personal appearance. This would also make it clear that the county could not make employment decisions on the basis of religious or political opinions, associations, or race.

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Hope this helps you understand these questions prior to voting.

Scott E

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