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Judge clears way for referendum on tuition law

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth ruled Friday that a referendum to challenge a new law granting in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants can go forward on this November’s ballot.

In his opinion and ruling, Silkworth rejected arguments from Casa de Maryland attorneys that the new law appropriates funds and is therefore exempt from referendum.

Joseph Sandler, counsel to Casa de Maryland, which challenged the petition, said he will appeal the ruling.

Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington County, who founded the group to strike down the law by referendum, said Sandler’s intention to appeal was “completely expected” but that appellate courts would probably side with Silkworth.

“The lower court ruling sets a huge precedent,” Parrott said. “It’s a hurdle that’s too high to overcome. … The other side simply doesn’t have a good case.”

He said the higher court would clearly see that the new law is a policy bill with no appropriation attached.

“The Maryland Dream Act makes no reference to revenue or appropriations, but solely discusses new eligibility requirements for in-state tuition for a specified class of people,” Silkworth wrote. “Any future impact on the state’s budget that could result from the Maryland Dream Act is merely an incidental result of a law aiming to change policy.”

Parrott said the ruling was a victory for Marylanders who believe the state should follow existing federal law.

“I think it is very positive news for all Marylanders,” Parrott said Saturday. “Now we are going to be able to have the chance to vote on whether to give our hard-earned money to illegal aliens to subsidize their education.”

Sandler said Saturday that Parrott has repeatedly contradicted himself by saying the bill will “cost taxpayers all this money, but yet he says it’s not an appropriation.”