Needing a certain amount of Council votes to pass, the bill barely makes it onto the 2011 ballot
Last nights ‘Showcase Baltimore’ was a fitting piece on the City Council’s agenda as several young men and women adorned the Clarence Du Burns chambers to highlight and celebrate their talents as a part of the Council President’s ‘Baltimore Idol’ styled talent showcase.
Not long after, the Baltimore City Council members, twelve in all, ended up passing CB11-0634, the Lower the Age bill, from 2nd reader to 3rd reader on the same night; and then passing the historic legislation on final passage to be placed on the November 8th General Election ballot. The IMPAC (Independent Movement Political Action Committee) backed bill – which would lower the age requirement of those running for city council from the current age of 21-years of age to eighteen years old – barely got enough votes to ensure the measure passed in time to make it onto this year’s ballot.
“Talk about passing something at the 11th hour, this legislation almost did not make the deadline,” said the bill’s sponsor 3rd district councilman Robert ‘Bobby’ Curran. “This bill makes sense and is long overdue, therefore I certainly want to thank the Council President for allowing it to pass from 2nd to 3rd reader on the same night, and for all those council members who made sure it pass through the chambers tonight and allowed it to be sent to the voters this fall!”
The youth related legislation, which was sponsored to ensure fairness in the electoral process, as eighteen year olds can register to vote and vote for elected officials, while also defending this country and possibly dying for the protection of America’s safety; was delayed since its original introduction in January. After realizing the deadline for placement on this year’s election ballot was fast approaching, organizers of the bill asked the chairman of the committee – in which the bill was referred – to call for an immediate hearing on the popular bill. After its public hearing, even the Chairman of the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee, Councilman Jim Kraft changed his mind and decided to sign onto the bill.
After realizing there would only be one council hearing before the Board of Election’s deadline for ballot questions, the bill’s sponsor and organizers began stepping up their lobbying efforts to ensure that the bill was passed in last night’s council meeting. Receiving assurance from a majority of the council, three council members were absent last night based on their attendance at the Maryland Conference of Counties (MACO); thereby leaving exactly 12-members left to pass this vital legislation – which is the exact number of votes it needed to be passed from second to third reader in the same meeting according to CC Rule 12-1. However, at the Council’s usual luncheon the day of each council meeting, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, led the ‘Council Whip’ efforts in making sure each council member knew the importance of their attendance at the night’s council meeting.
Other legislation last night caused some eyebrows to be raised and even rubbed some the wrong way; such as the Resolution introduced by 1st District Councilman Kraft, which called on the Council to support the Maryland General Assembly’s push for Gay Marriage in the next Legislative Session. The state legislation which failed to pass through the House of Delegates this past session, after being passed by a majority of the 47-member State Senate chambers; seems to now have the public support of Governor Martin O’Malley, who called upon legislators to pass it last session – though not publicly! Now, with his brother Peter, Chief of Staff for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, making a rare appearance at last night’s council meeting, it was evident that this resolution was by order of the outgoing Governor – who is said to being push such an effort based on the recent passage of Same Sex Marriage in New York.
The timing was questioned by many who realized that this resolution was introduced and passed in 2008 by Councilman Bill Henry, which went under the radar as the support for such controversial legislation was not nearly what it is today. “This makes no sense, they [City Council] pass meaningless resolutions which mean absolutely nothing in ensuring the passage of such state legislation,” said one community resident in attendance at last night’s meeting. “If they want to show me their support, let me see you in Annapolis personally lobbying for the passage of the bill during the next session in 2012?”
However, opponents of such measure assured this Examiner that this legislation is welcomed by their colleagues, as they are confidant that any same sex marriage legislation passed in Maryland will be defeated through ballot initiative, especially based on the number of signatures that was easily gathered for a less controversial bill – the College Tax Breaks for Illegal Immigrants. “If the legislation is passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the next legislative session, and is placed on the ballot by signature ballot initiative, Maryland will then have two very unpopular bills on the ballot during the November Presidential Elections,” said a key conservative organizer who was a leader of the recent ballot initiative in Maryland. “We welcome such unpopular legislation on the ballot, as it does nothing but help push our base out to the polls in November, making President Obama vulnerable in a true blue state like Maryland!”
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