President's Message

Ballot Question C

Two years ago, the voters of Baltimore County approved the creation of a Charter Review Commission to examine the County's Charter every ten years and make recommendations about changes to the charter. On the ballot of November 6, Questions A thru F are the group of suggested changes from the Charter Review Commission. As an observer at many of these Commission meetings, I can tell you that most of the members of the Commission wanted to largely maintain the status quo. So most of the questions on the ballot are largely housekeeping amendments, such as changing the names of departments or correct obsolete Charter references. Time and again I heard citizens ask the Commission to make substantive changes to the way County government operates, but in almost all cases the Commission failed to incorporate these requests into a Charter amendment.

The one exception regarding changes is Ballot Question C. It may not appear to be a sweeping change, but Question C would incorporate an important change to how the County Council does business. Currently, the County Council has 40 days for a proposed bill to be introduced and then voted upon. If a bill does not pass within that timeframe, it is considered dead and cannot be enacted upon unless reintroduced. Because of this 40-day limitation, bills typically get discussed at a Council work session in around day 30 of the 40-day limitation, and the vote on a bill gets scheduled approximately one week after the work session. Such a schedule does not give the public very much time to disseminate news about a bill after the work session. Additionally, if amendments to a bill are introduced at the work session, the same problem about getting out information on the amendments would exist.

Question C would extend the time frame for consideration of a bill from 40 days to 65 days. Such an extension would give the public far more time to consider the ramifications of proposed legislation, as well as allow the public more time to lobby their Council representative about the impacts of legislation. I hope you will vote for Question C as an important tool for allowing more public input on proposed legislation.

Eric Rockel, President