propose amendments to the State Constitution,
which must be embodied in a regular legislative
bill passed by three-fifths of the total membership
of each House. All amendments to the Constitu-
tion must be submitted to the voters at the next
general election after passage.
All bills passed by the General Assembly be-
come law when signed by the Governor, or when
passed over the Governor's veto by three-fifths of
the membership of each House. Laws thus ap-
proved take effect on the first day of June after
the session in which they were passed, except (1)
when a later date is specified in the Act, or (2)
when the bill is declared an emergency measure.
Emergency bills must be passed by three-fifths of
the total number of members of each House, and
become law immediately upon their approval by
The General Assembly may add a referendum
provision to any local bill, but may not submit a
statewide bill to referendum (with the exception of
a proposed amendment to the Constitution or a
Soldiers' Bonus Bill). Most statewide bills, except
appropriation bills, and any local bill that con-
cerns a county or Baltimore City, may be submit-
ted to a referendum by petition. No bill subject to
referendum is enforceable until approved by a ma-
jority of the voters at the election in which the re-
ferred bill is voted upon, except an emergency bill,
which is effective immediately and remains effec-
tive thirty days following its rejection by the vot-
ers (Const. 1867, Art. XVI).
The House of Delegates has sole power of im-
peachment of any officer of the State. A majority
of the whole number of members of the House
must approve any bill of impeachment. The Sen-
ate tries all impeachment cases, and two-thirds of
the total number of Senators must concur in a
verdict of guilty (Const. 1867, Art. Ill, sec. 26).
Both Houses elect the State Treasurer by joint
ballot. The General Assembly also elects the Gov-
ernor or the Lieutenant Governor if the popular
election has resulted in a tie or the winning candi-
date or candidates are ineligible. When a vacancy
occurs in the office of Governor, the Lieutenant
Governor succeeds to that office for the remainder
of the term. If a vacancy occurs in the office of
Lieutenant Governor, the Governor nominates a
person to succeed to that office upon confirmation
by a majority vote of all members of the General
Assembly in joint session. If vacancies occur in
both the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Gov-
ernor at the same time, the General Assembly
must convene and fill the office of Governor by a
majority vote of all the members in joint session.
The chosen Governor then nominates a Lieuten-
ant Governor with the same confirmation.
The President of the Senate serves as acting
Governor if the Lieutenant Governor is not able
to serve as acting Governor. If there is a vacancy
in the office of President of the Senate when the
President is authorized to serve as acting Gover-
nor, the Senate must convene and fill the vacancy
(Const. 1867, Art. II, sees. 1A, 1B, 6, 7A).
THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS:
HOW A BILL BECOMES A LAW
Upon request of a legislator, the Department of
Legislative Reference drafts legislation in the form
of a bill or a joint resolution. As a "profiled bill,"
a bill or joint resolution may be introduced before
the regular General Assembly session convenes in
January. A bill is filed ("goes into the hopper")
with the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of
the House, is given a number, and is readied for
its first reading on the floor.
First Reading: The reading clerk, when the ses-
sion has convened, first reads the title of the bill.
This is .the first of three readings given the bill in
the house where it is introduced. Then, the presid-
ing officer assigns the bill to a standing commit-
tee. Bills or joint resolutions introduced in either
chamber during the last forty-five days of the ses-
sion are referred to the rules committee of the re-
spective house. Thereafter, they may not be
required to be returned to the floor except upon
the affirmative votes of at least two-thirds of all
elected members of that house.
Reference to Committee: The standing commit-
tees meet regularly during the session to receive
testimony and take action on bills assigned. Citi-
zens are encouraged to present their views on pro-
posed bills by mail or by personal appearance.
The Department of Fiscal Services prepares a fis-
cal analysis for each bill and these fiscal notes are
considered during the committee deliberations.
Second Reading and Floor Consideration: The
bill is reported to the floor by the standing com-
mittee to which it was assigned. The report may
be favorable, unfavorable, or without recommen-
dation. If favorable, it may be with or without
committee amendment. After consideration of
committee amendments, the bill is then open to
amendment from the floor. There, committee ac-
tion may be reversed, although this happens infre-