After Maryland's 2012 ballot was stuffed with referendums for everything from same-sex marriage to gambling in Prince George's County, Burtonsville Democrat Del. Eric Luedtke proposed more stringent standards for petitioners.
Columnist Marta Mossburg wrote off the bill as hypocrisy in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun on Feb. 26 and a group called Citizens in Charge reportedly mailed a slew of attack ads taking shots at Luedtke and the bill to Maryland voters last week.
Luedtke wrote an opinion piece for the Sun on March 3, defending his legislation, which, he said calls for more transparancy in the funding of petition campaigns; requires signers to be made aware of whether their information will become public information and validates signatures.
Ms. Mossburg and others seem to think that this is a partisan effort to make the process of petitioning laws to referendum harder. It is not. The referendum process provides equal benefits to liberals and conservatives.
I was a strong supporter of the efforts of the Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police to petition a local law that undermined collective bargaining rights, and there are plenty of elected officials from both parties who have supported referendums on a variety of other issues.
But the previous generation of progressives who secured the right to referendum in our state constitution did so in 1914. In the century since then our commitment to fairness and transparency in election law has strengthened, and loopholes in the law that undermine the integrity of the process have become clear.