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Maryland voters will decide the outcome of seven ballot questions in November.


Question 1 — All Maryland voters will decide whether the judges in Prince George’s County who oversee estate and will disputes must be admitted to the Maryland Bar. Baltimore City and Montgomery and Harford counties currently require this.

Supporters say the measure will professionalize the so-called “Orphan’s Court” which oversees estate disputes.

Opponents are concerned that the change will lead to a statewide requirement that Orphan’s Court judges be attorneys, which they believe is unnecessary.

 

Question 2 - All Maryland voters will decide whether the judges in Baltimore County who oversee estate and will disputes must be admitted to the Maryland Bar. Baltimore City and Montgomery and Harford counties currently require this.

Supporters say the measure will professionalize the so-called “Orphan’s Court” which oversees estate disputes.

Opponents are concerned that the change will lead to a statewide requirement that Orphan’s Court judges be attorneys, which they believe is unnecessary.

 

Question 3 — Voters will decide if the Maryland Constitution should be changed so that a lawmaker, such as a mayor, county council person or state legislator, would be suspended from office immediately after being found guilty of a felony or crime of moral turpitude. Currently an official must step down only after sentencing — which can be many months later. Lawmakers who plead guilty of such crimes would be immediately removed from office.

The change was prompted in part by controversy surrounding Prince George’s County Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, who flushed a check for $100,000 when federal agents came to her home. After pleading guilty to a corruption charge, a loophole allowed her to continue in office until sentencing, drawing a salary.

A similar circumstance arose after a jury found former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon guilty of theft in December 2010. She remained in office until early February 2011, when she resigned as part of a plea deal.

The suggested change to the state Constitution passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
 

Question 4 — Voters will determine whether to uphold a state law that would allow some illegal immigrants to pay lower, in-state tuition at Maryland colleges and universities. To qualify, a student would have to attend three years at a Maryland high school and graduate from it (or earn a GED.) Also, the student’s parents would have to show they’ve filed state tax returns during those three years. The law is known as the Dream Act.

Supporters say it is unfair to deny children the opportunities that come with higher education because of sins their parents committed in coming to the country illegally. They say the requirements are strict and only a few hundred immigrants would qualify each year.

Opponents say the change would reward law-breaking behavior and would draw more illegal immigrants to the state. They also balk at the $3.5 million annual price tag, saying the state should not extend new services while cutting other programs.

 

Question 5 — Voters will decide whether to uphold the state law that redrew the boundaries of Maryland’s eight congressional districts. Judges have said the map is gerrymandered, but legal.

Supporters say the map meets legal requirements. They note that Maryland is an odd shaped state, which they say makes it difficult to draw districts that are more standard.

Opponents say the map unfairly splits African-American neighborhoods to bolster the chances of incumbents. And they say it is designed to deny Republicans a seat in Congress by squeezing tens of thousands of registered Democrats into a traditionally conservative Western Maryland district.

 

Question 6 — Voters will decide whether to uphold the new law legalizing same-sex marriage. The law stipulates that religious institutions such as churches, synagogues and mosques would not have to perform marriage ceremonies that violate their faith.

The ballot question would not change the current public accomodations law, under which religious institutions that offer public charitable services — such as soup kitchens — cannot deny a gay couple.

Supporters say that gay couples should have the same rights as straight couples, and point to a long list of legal benefits that accompany marriage.

Opponents say that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

 

Question 7 — Voters will determine if the state should add a sixth casino (to be located in Prince George’s County), allow table games like poker at all sites and increase the permitted number of slot machines in Maryland from 15,000 to 16,500. If voters in Prince George’s County reject the measure, the additional casino would not be built, but the other two parts of the law would go forward.

If the additional casino is built, some existing casinos would pay a lower tax rate on their profits as compensation for the new competition. Overall, the changes would bring the state an additional $100 million a year in tax revenue by 2019, according to an independent state analysis.

Supporters say the new casino would create jobs and tax revenues.They say that adding table games would make Maryland’s gambling venues more competitive with those in surrounding states.

Opponents say the additional site would saturate the casino market and reduce profits at current sites. Vegas-style table games, they say, would draw young people who are most at-risk for gambling addition.