Restrictions on Referendum Process Won't Pass this Session, Senate President Says

By Len Lazarick,

ANNAPOLIS—Senate President Mike Miller told reporters Wednesday that new standards making it more difficult to petition new laws to the ballot are not likely to pass this year, though he agrees that the practice needs to be curtailed.

“It was taken to the extreme in the last election,” Miller said. “And you know it will have to be curtailed at some point in time in the future.”

Opponents gathered enough signatures to let voters decide on bills on college tuition for immigrant children, same-sex marriage and congressional redistricting. This was first time in 20 years laws passed by the legislature and signed by the governor were put on the ballot through the petition process. It required collecting more than 55,000 signatures.

“We don’t need every issue subject to referendum — that would weigh down the Democratic process, and make long lines at the polling place,” Miller said. “There needs to be a verification of signatures.”

Measures were proposed in both the House and Senate this year that would have establish stricter standards for ballot signatures and those collecting signatures on petitions. Neither bill has been voted on in committee.

“I don’t think we’re going to move forward on that issue this year,” Miller said.

But rules need to be established, he said, “so that not every single piece of legislation gets petitioned to referendum, only those that are really deserving the attention.”

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