On April 12, 2021, the Maryland State Legislature voted to refer two constitutional amendments to the 2022 ballot—the Civil Jury Trials Amendment and the Residency Requirements for State Legislators Amendment.
The Civil Jury Trials Amendment would amend the state constitution to increase from $15,000 to $25,000 the minimum amount in controversy that guarantees a right to a jury trial in civil cases. Currently, if a plaintiff files a case where the amount in controversy is greater than $15,000, the defendant may request a trial by jury in the circuit court.
The Residency Requirements for State Legislators Amendment would require that starting in January 2024 candidates for the state legislature maintain a primary place of abode in the district they wish to represent for at least six months prior to the date of the election. Currently, the state constitution requires that a candidate has resided in the district for six months before the election. It would also change all gendered language in the amended sections of the state constitution to gender-neutral language.
To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a 60% vote is required in both the Maryland State Senate and the Maryland House of Representatives.
The amendment concerning the right to jury trials in civil cases was introduced as Senate Bill 669 on Feb. 3, 2021, by Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher (D). It was approved in the state Senate in a vote of 43-4 on March 16. On April 10, the state House passed an amended version of the bill in a vote of 100-34 with seven not voting or absent. The state Senate concurred with the amendments in a vote of 46-0 with one not voting.
The residency requirements amendment was introduced as Senate Bill 55 on Jan. 13, 2021, by Sen. Charles Sydnor III (D). It was approved in the state Senate in a vote of 47-0 on April 9. On April 12, the state House passed an amended version in a vote of 136-0 with five not voting or absent. The state Senate concurred with the amendments on the same day with a vote of 47-0.
The Maryland State Legislature convened on Jan. 13 and adjourned on April 12. During the session, the state legislature also referred a constitutional amendment that would rename the Maryland Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Maryland and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland.
From 1996 through 2020, there was an average of about three measures on the ballot in even-numbered years in Maryland. Since 1996, 33 of 36 measures or 92% were approved, and three of 36 measures or 8% were defeated.
So far, 21 statewide ballot measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 12 states.