Tuition petition: Signature count climbs past 87,000
* Updated throughout the day with Monday counts.
The number of valid signatures on a petition to stop in-state tuition breaks for illegal immigrants climbed rapidly Monday, topping reached 87,000 by about 4 p.m., according to the most recent report posted by the Board of Elections.
Counting is to continue this week; several thousand signatures are left to be validated.
The tutition petition has already crossed the threshhold needed to put it on the November 2012 ballot. The controversial new law, called the Maryland Dream Act, will be suspended until voters have their say, though supporters have vowed court action over the referendumeffort.
The latest elections board report shows that 17,938 signatures have been tossed for various reasons, including signing with a name that did not closely match the person's voter registration information. Baltimore County, where Republican Del. Patrick McDonough is an outspoken opponent of illegal immigrants, has so far supplied more than 17,000 valid signatures.
Petitioners submitted 74,980 signatures on June 30. Round One, which was due at the end of May, yielded 47,288 valid signatures.
It takes just over 55,000 valid signatures -- an amount equal to 3 percent of voters in the most recent gubernatorial election -- to trigger a referendum.
Such petition efforts have rarely been successful. Perhaps the best-known, concerning abortion laws, was on the ballot about 20 years ago. Voters upheld the bill in question.
In this case, Maryland lawmakers approved giving in-state higher education tuition rates to undocumented students who have attended at least three years of Maryland high schools and whose families have filed tax documents.
Qualified students would pay in-state tuition at community colleges and would be eligible to transfer to four-year Maryland colleges and univerisities, again at the lower tuition rates, after completing 60 credit hours.
The repeal drive is spearheaded by Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican who won his seat last fall on a tea party platform.