The group behind petitioning three bills to referendum last year is not going to try to give Maryland voters the chance to kill Gov. Martin O'Malley's sweeping gun control bill, but Marylanders could have their say on several controversial bills passed during this year's legislative session.
MDPetitions.com announced at an event Wednesday that it would not seek to put the gun bill on the ballot in 2014, instead choosing to back an expected National Rifle Association lawsuit challenging the bill. However, MDPetitions.com head Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington County, said his group has filed paperwork for two other measures -- legislation repealing Maryland's death penalty and a bill requiring nonunion teachers to pay a fee to their local union.
Parrott said his group hasn't made a decision whether to start formal referendum efforts.
While MDPetitons.com isn't starting an effort to allow voters to kill the gun bill, Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore and Harford counties, said he has been approached by two other groups interested in the prospect.
"I think it's important to delay this oppressive monster that's devouring our constitutional rights in Maryland as soon as possible," McDonough said, noting that a successful petition to put the issue on the November 2014 ballot would delay the law -- would make Maryland one of the most restrictive state for gun ownership -- from taking effect until after the election.
Parrott said MDPetitions.com had submitted paperwork to petition the gun bill before it made the decision to join the lawsuit, but would hand it over to any other group wanting to take the bill to the ballot.
Brad Botwin, director of grassroots conservative group Help Save Maryland, said activists discussed other bills to possible referendum during MDPetitions.com's Wednesday event. He said O'Malley's offshore wind farm bill and a measure to allow illegal immigrants to have Maryland drivers' licenses came up, but no decisions were made.
He said a major consideration was whether petitioners would be able to gather a coalition and find enough financial support to go up against well-funded opponents, such as the American Civil Liberties Union or the Service Employees International Union.