Commentary by Ron Miller
As of this morning, the Maryland State Board of Elections has validated 47,354 signatures for the ballot petition to bring to referendum the recently passed bill authorizing in-state tuition for the children of illegal aliens.
They are a little more than 8,300 valid signatures from success; they need 55,736 valid signatures by the end of the month to become the first successful ballot initiative to bring a passed bill to referendum in 20 years.
Since the process is being conducted without observers and in secret, just another example of the arrogance of Maryland's one-party monopoly, I'm sure the ballot petition sponsors could challenge the dismissal of more than 10,000 signatures in court.
Nonetheless, it is an impressive achievement in a state that doesn't welcome citizen input. While Maryland has a referendum process, it is designed to be nearly impossible to meet. The use of technology to gather signatures and get the word out has certainly made a difference, and MDPetitions.com may be a model for future citizen-centered ballot initiatives.
If you would like to sign the petition and give the people their say on this controversial bill, go to
MDPetitions.com and follow the instructions, or contact your local GOP central committee, which is sure to be active in collecting signatures.
Citizens are demanding to be heard on other issues as well. The proposal to raise the tolls on the Bay Bridge has brought out
standing room only crowds at public hearings, overwhelmingly in opposition to the proposed tripling of tolls from $2.50 to $8.00 over two years.
Earlier this year, a concerted grass-roots effort by groups seeking to retain the Maryland Constitution's definition of marriage and block a same-sex 'marriage' bill, turned what was thought to be certain defeat into a surprising victory.
As I observe this burst of bottom-up citizen activism by everyday Marylanders, signaling a new trend that, quite frankly, has already taken hold in other states, I wonder to myself, "Has Maryland finally caught the fever?"
If the Tea Party movement has taught us anything, it's that the 'silent majority' roars to life when the elites in power overreach. When President Bush pushed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), commonly referred to as the bailout, on the American people, they took to the streets in hundreds of cities on September 25, 2008, and inundated Washington, DC with phone calls, faxes and emails, shouting "No!" in a loud and unified voice.
When President Obama took power and not only continued the bailouts, but boosted federal spending to record-breaking levels, and extended the reach of government deeper and deeper into our lives and pocketbooks, the Tea Party movement, given a name to go with their purpose, became a full-blown political force.
As the master of ceremonies for the very first Tea Party rally in Maryland, at Solomons on March 22, 2009, I was of the opinion then that the Tea Party movement in the Fee State - er, the Free State - would always be intense but small in scope and impact, simply because of the nature of Maryland's politics.
Then Governor O'Malley and the General Assembly overreached, bless their hearts. In doing so, they may have given the Tea Party movement in Maryland, which they persist in trying to pronounce dead, new and sustained life.
The philosophy at the heart of the Tea Party movement, the lies of the Left aside, is that, in the words of Alexander Hamilton in the well of the U.S. House of Representatives, "Here, sir, the people rule."
While conservatives and Republicans have certainly been energized by this new wave of grass-roots activism, everyday Marylanders who are registered Democrats also want their government back.
Twenty-seven percent of those registering to sign petitions supporting the referendum are Democrats, and it was the faith-based community of Prince George's County, a Democratic stronghold, that told their delegation, in no uncertain terms, to leave marriage alone, thereby causing the bill to fall short of the votes it needed for passage.
It will be interesting to see how this energy carries forward in Maryland politics. Hot issues like redistricting, the transfer of half of teacher pension costs to the counties, and an increase in the gasoline tax, are all on the horizon, especially with the prospect of a special session in the fall.
If the one-party monopoly in Annapolis doesn't read the 'tea leaves' correctly and continues to overreach, they could make this fever white-hot going into the special session and the election year that follows.
Frankly, Maryland is overdue for a cleansing fire.
Ron Miller of Huntingtown, Maryland is a conservative writer and commentator, and author of SELLOUT: Musings From Uncle Toms Porch. He is the president of Regular Folks United, which promotes and defends individual liberty, and president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Maryland, the state chapter of the nations preeminent organization of Christian black Republicans. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for numerous online sites and print publications, and his own website, TeamRonMiller.com. Join him on Facebook andTwitter.