"First, I want to thank Al Gore for inventing the Internet," said Maryland State Delegate Patrick L. McDonough to reporters this week.
McDonough may have single-handedly brought about the death of irony with that zinger, but he will need another 55,735 voters to kill Senate Bill 167, which grants illegal immigrants in-state tuition breaks.
The Republican delagate's quip refers to a virtual petition drive to repeal the bill approved last month by the Democrat-led General Assembly. The launch of mdpetitions.com
is the first concrete step in the push against the controversial legislation, which analysts say will cost the state $3.5 million annually by 2016.
The site -- the brainchild of Republican Delegate Neil C. Parrott -- links with Maryland’s voter registration database to automatically fill in the correct name and address of the petition signer, who can then print out, sign and mail the form to organizers. The mailing address is provided on a printed page that can be folded into an envelope.
Parrott reportedly came up with the idea for the site after meeting with the Board of Elections in February to prepare for a petition effort to overturn a same-sex marriage law. He allegedly paid $2,000 of his own money to develop the website and hopes to recover the cost with donations, according to The Baltimore Sun
To succeed, Parrot and his fellow organizers will have to collect 55,736 signatures -- the equivalent of 3 percent of voters in the last gubernatorial election -- by June 30. That would suspend the measure until November 2012, when voters would decide its fate in a referendum.
Maryland allows voters to petition for the last say on most new laws. Opponents behind these petitions have only a few months to gather tens of thousands of signatures, and each must match the exact name as it appears on the signer’s voter registration card. Given these strict regulations, successful statewide petition efforts in Maryland are relatively rare.
You know what else is rare? Al Gore inventing stuff. Ziiinng!
Published at 7:16 AM EDT on May 5, 2011