A ballot question addresses a piece of proposed legislation to be approved or rejected by voters. There are TWO statewide ballot measures on the November 3, 2020 ballot for all Marylanders, see the information below to decide how you want to vote.
For information on local ballot measures and your candidates visit our Voters’ Guide page.
Constitutional Amendment (Ch. 645 of the 2020 Legislative Session) State Budget Process
(Amending Article II Section 17 and Article Ill Section 14 and 52 of the Maryland Constitution)
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.
o For the Constitutional Amendment o Against the Constitutional Amendment
Origin of the ballot question: The 2020 session of the General Assembly passed legislation (SB 1028) proposing a constitutional amendment to increase the authority of the General Assembly in the budget process. A bill that amends the Maryland Constitution requires a three/fifth vote in each chamber (Maryland Senate and House of Delegates) and approval by a majority of voters at the next general election.
Present Practice: The Maryland Constitution prohibits the General Assembly from increasing any budget item or adding any new items to the Governor’s proposed budget for any of the government agencies except the Judicial branch and the operations of the General Assembly itself. The one exception is that it may add to the budget if it enacts a new revenue source to fund additional items. This is a rare occurrence. In addition, it cannot move funds from one agency to another. Therefore, in practice, the General Assembly can only recommend cuts to state agency budgets recommended by the Governor. Once a budget passes the Senate and House, it becomes law and cannot be changed or vetoed by the Governor.
Proposed Change: If passed, the General Assembly could move spending in the budget proposed by the Governor from one agency to another as long as the total amount of the budget does not exceed the total amount in Governor’s proposed budget. The General Assembly could also add spending to a new item, as long as other item(s) of the budget are reduced to pay for the new expenditure. This change would begin with the 2024 Budget bill which is presented to the General Assembly in 2023. At that time, the Governor would be given the authority to veto items added or items increased by the General Assembly.
Arguments in Favor:
- The Maryland Legislature has less power in the budget process than any other legislature in the United States.
- Members of the public might have more ability to influence funding for programs of importance to them because they have more opportunities to interact with legislators during the General Assembly Session than they do to influence the Governor or the state agencies as the budget details are negotiated and finalized for presentation.
- For decades, Republican and Democratic legislators have proposed this change while Governors from both major parties have been in power. The provisions of this bill will not take effect until the election of a new Governor and members of the General Assembly are elected.
- This Constitutional Amendment would not change the current requirement that the General Assembly must pass a balanced budget.
- Because the Governor would have the power to enact line item vetoes, there may be more Special Sessions to override those vetoes. Special Sessions come with a cost.
- Because the public will be advocating for new or increased funding for particular programs, legislators could be swayed to support programs that the Governor did not feel should be funded at that level.
- It could take longer to pass a budget.
- Legislators may have more concern about programs that affect their constituents, while the Governor may have a more statewide perspective.
A vote FOR the constitutional amendment means the legislature will be able to adjust spending in the Governor’s budget by reducing some items and increasing others as long as the total amount of spending does not exceed the amount of spending proposed by the Governor.
A vote AGAINST the constitutional amendment means current law would remain in place and the legislature will only be able to reduce the expenditures within the budget proposed by the Governor.
Question 2 - Commercial Gaming Expansion Referendum
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?
o For the referred law. o Against the referred law.
Origin of the ballot question: In 2007, the Maryland Constitution was amended to say that the General Assembly may only authorize additional forms or expansion of commercial gambling if approved through a referendum by a majority of the voters in a general election. In 2020 the General Assembly passed SB 04 that would authorize it to pass laws to establish a program of sports wagering and event wagering in the State if approved by voters in the next General Election. The bill also stated that the primary purpose of this expansion of gambling would be to raise revenue for education.
Present Practice: In 2008 Maryland voters first approved gambling via video lottery terminals (slot machines.) In 2012, voters approved expanding the allowable number of video lottery terminals and authorized table games in casinos. Wagering on a contest, event, game, or match between individuals or teams sponsored by a professional league or association or hosted by a college or university is currently illegal in Maryland.
Proposed Change: If the referendum is approved, the General Assembly would then need to pass legislation that authorizes the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue licenses for sports and event wagering in the State. The legislation must include the criteria for eligible applications for a licensee and specify the permissible forms, means of conducting, and locations where sports wagering would take place. The bill that sent this question to the voters also requires a study by the General Assembly to evaluate whether there is reason to assist minorities and women in the sports and event wagering industry and market. This study is to be completed by October 1, 2020 so any recommendations that result can be considered when the General Assembly establishes criteria for licenses (assuming the referendum passes.)
Arguments in Favor:
- Allowing sports betting in Maryland would enable the state to compete with the fourteen states that are already raising revenue this way.
- Illegal sports betting already takes place. Maryland should provide a legal way to place such bets to tap into that market and thereby reduce criminal activity.
- Depending on how it is implemented, Maryland could raise as much as $20 million a year that could be invested in education which could yield long term benefits for Maryland residents
- Maryland already has legalized a lottery, slot machines and casinos with various gambling table games. This would add another way to raise money from people who may not be able to afford it and may become addicted to gambling.
- If sports betting is implemented in a similar manner to casino gambling, most of the revenue raised will likely go to the gambling venues with only a small portion going to education.
- Sports betting could have an impact on how fans watch games because they could be more interested in making money than appreciating the sport. It could impact the game for players as well, especially if wagering is allowed on college sports.
A vote FOR the referred law means the General Assembly will be able to pass legislation to establish a program of sports wagering and event wagering in Maryland with a portion of the revenue going to support public education.
A vote AGAINST the referred law means that commercial wagering on sporting events will remain illegal in Maryland.
Click here for a printable PDF fact sheet about the two questions that will be on the 2020 General Election ballot.