During the colonial period, Maryland's Proprietors - the Lords Baltimore - designated who would serve as governor on their behalf. From 1692 to 1715, when Maryland briefly was a royal colony, the Crown appointed the governor. Lord Baltimore regained control of Maryland in 1715 and chose a governor for the colony until the American Revolution.

[photo, State House, Annapolis, Maryland] Under Maryland's first constitution of 1776, the Governor was chosen annually by joint ballot of both houses of the General Assembly. At that time, ". . . if the person chosen governor shall die, resign, remove out of the State, or refuse to act (sitting the general assembly), the senate and house of delegates shall immediately thereupon proceed to a new choice . . ." (Const. 1776, sec. 25). By 1809, if the Governor's position became vacant, the first named of the Governor's Council was to "act as a Governor, until the next meeting of the General Assembly" at which session a new governor would be chosen (Chapter 16, Acts of 1809, ratified 1809). Authorization for the Council was abolished in 1836, along with provision for an acting governor (Chapter 197, Acts of 1836, ratified 1837). The General Assembly resumed its authority to fill any vacancy in the office of Governor until the office of Lieutenant Governor was established in 1864 (Constitution of 1864, Art. II, secs. 6-10).

State House, Annapolis, Maryland, January 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Government House, Annapolis, Maryland] In 1838, by constitutional amendment, voters first began to elect the Governor every three years from one of three rotating gubernatorial districts (Chapter 197, Acts of 1836, ratified 1837). At each election, only voters from a single gubernatorial election district selected the Governor. By 1851, the Governor's term of office was lengthened to four years (Const. 1851, Art. 2, sec. 1). The Constitution of 1864 eliminated the rotating gubernatorial election districts. Consequently, since the election of 1868, the Governor has been elected by all the voters throughout the State.

Elected by popular vote for a term of four years, the Governor takes office on the third Wednesday of January following election. No person may serve as Governor for more than two consecutive terms.

To be eligible for the office of Governor, a person must be at least thirty years of age and must have been a resident and registered voter of the State for five years immediately preceding election (Const., Art. II, secs. 1, 3, 5, 8, 21, 21A).

Government House, Annapolis, Maryland, May 2003. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

The Governor is the chief executive officer of the State and commander-in-chief of its military forces (Code State Government Article, secs. 3-101 through 3-406). Headed by the Governor, the Executive Branch of Maryland government includes executive departments, independent agencies, and numerous commissions, task forces, committees, and advisory boards.

To each annual session of the General Assembly, the Governor must submit a budget of government for the following fiscal year. The Governor also may inform the General Assembly at any time of the condition of the State (Const., Art. II, sec. 19; Art. III, sec. 52(3)). Most commonly, this occurs through the State of the State Address at the beginning of a regular legislative session in January or February.

Every bill passed by the General Assembly, except the annual budget bill, must be presented to the Governor before it becomes law. The Governor then may sign the bill into law or veto it. Any bill that the Governor vetoes may be passed without his signature by a three-fifths vote of the total number of members of each house of the General Assembly, either at the current session or at the session following. If a bill is presented more than six days before the General Assembly adjourns and is not vetoed within six days, or if a bill is presented within six days prior to the adjournment of the General Assembly and is not vetoed within thirty days after its presentment, then the bill becomes law without the Governor's signature. The Governor may veto any part of an appropriations bill, in the same manner as other bills, without vetoing it in its entirety (Const., Art. II, sec. 17; Art. III, sec. 52(6)).

The Governor is commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State - the National Guard - except when such forces are called into national service. If the National Guard is called, the Governor may establish a State Guard (Const., Art. II, sec. 8).

In times of public emergency or energy emergency, the Governor has certain emergency powers as defined by law (Code Public Safety Article, secs. 14-301 through 14-406).

The Governor appoints all military and civil officers of the State subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, except when the election or appointment of such officers otherwise is provided for. In addition to appointing the heads of major departments, boards, and commissions of the State government, the Governor appoints certain boards and commissions in each county and the City of Baltimore, as provided for by law. The Governor also commissions notaries public and appoints persons to fill vacancies in the offices of Attorney General, Comptroller, and seats in the General Assembly. Any officer appointed by the Governor, except a member of the General Assembly, is removable by him for cause.

The Governor may grant pardons to persons convicted of criminal acts against the State, commute the sentences of prisoners of the State, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses against the State. The Governor may extradite prisoners or persons wanted by other states upon the presentation of a writ of extradition and may issue a warrant for the arrest of any person so wanted. The Governor also may ask for the return to this State of any prisoner or person of another state wanted for the violation of the laws of Maryland (Const., Art. II, sec. 20).

By virtue of his office, the Governor serves on certain boards and commissions. The Governor chairs the Board of Public Works, the Governor's Executive Council (Cabinet), the P-20 Leadership Council of Maryland, and the State House Trust. The Governor also serves on the Commission to Review Maryland's Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools; the State Commission on the Capital City; the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Baltimore City; the Board of Trustees, Maryland Environmental Trust; the Rural Maryland Council; the Maryland Veterans Home Commission; and the Governor's Workforce Development Board. In addition, the Governor is a member of several interstate boards: the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Leadership Council; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chesapeake Executive Council; the Education Commission of the States; the Interstate Mining Compact Commission; the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean; the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission; the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin; the Southern Regional Education Board; the Southern States Energy Board; and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.


[photo, State House (from School St.), Annapolis, Maryland] The Office of the Governor is organized under the Chief of Staff. Appointed by the Governor, the Chief of Staff is responsible for the functioning of the Office of the Governor. Further, the Chief of Staff has specific oversight of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and the Department of Budget and Management.

Under the Chief of Staff, the Governor named three Senior Advisors in 2015 to assist the Governor's Office.

State House (from School St.), Annapolis, Maryland, November 1999. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


Reporting directly to the Chief of Staff, three Deputy Chiefs of Staff are responsible for the functions of government carried out by other government agencies.

One deputy chief of staff is responsible for oversight of the Board of Public Works, and Maryland departments of Commerce, Housing and Community Development, State Police, Public Safety and Correctional Services and Transportation; the Governor's offices of Business Ombudsman, and Federal Relations; State agencies, including Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Military Department, Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission, Maryland Stadium Authority, and University System of Maryland.

A second deputy chief of staff oversees the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and six departments: Agriculture; Environment; Information Technology; Labor, Licensing and Regulation; Natural Resources; and Planning; as well as State Department of Assessments and Taxation; Maryland Energy Administration, Maryland Environmental Service, Maryland Insurance Administration; State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, and Public Service Commission.

The third deputy chief of staff oversees eight departments: Aging; Disabilities; Education; General Services; Health and Mental Hygiene; Human Resources; Juvenile Services; and Veterans Affairs; as well as Office of Secretary of State; Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems; and Maryland Higher Education Commission.

The Appointments Office formally organized by 1967 within the Office of the Governor.

All civil and military officers of the State, whose appointment or election is not otherwise provided for by the Constitution or by law, are nominated and appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent (Const., Art. II, secs. 10-14). The Appointments Office assists the Governor in this process.

In October 2014, the Office of the Business Ombudsman was established within the Office of the Governor (Chapter 641, Acts of 2014).

The Office of the Business Ombudsman resolves problems that businesses face when interacting with State agencies. The Office ensures that State government is responsive to the needs of business, and serves as a central clearinghouse of information for business services and information. Further, the Office refers individuals and businesses to the appropriate resources in State government; provides comprehensive permit information and assistance; and apprises the Governor and General Assembly of problems encountered by businesses doing business with State agencies.

The Office establishes and maintains a list of business assistance programs and services in the State; implements a business fairness and responsiveness service; develops and maintains a program that provides comprehensive information on permits; and establishes procedures to assist permit applicants experiencing difficulties.


The Office of Legal Counsel originated in 1991as Legal, Labor, and Special Issues. It reorganized in 1995 as the Office of Legal Counsel and Regulatory Affairs, and reformed under its present name in 2003.

To the Governor, Lt. Governor, the First Lady, and their staffs, the Office provides legal advice. The Office also coordinates matters related to the Governor's clemency and extradition powers, such as pardon, parole, and commutation of sentences.

Responsible for many functions, the Chief Legal Counsel heads the Office and serves as senior legal advisor and criminal justice advisor to the Office of the Governor. The Chief Legal Counsel also helps develop and advance the Administration's legislative package, and monitors important State litigation. Moreover, the Chief Legal Counsel reviews Executive Orders, negotiates memoranda of understanding, assists the Governor in the appointment of judges, and serves as liaison to the Judiciary, the Office of the Attorney General, and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

The Legislative Office was organized formally by 1967 within the Office of the Governor. In January 2004, the Legislative Office merged with the Governor's Policy Office to form the Legislative and Policy Office. In 2007, it reformed as the Legislative Office.

Fifth Regiment Armory, 219 29th Division St., Baltimore, MD 21201 - 2288

The Governor may choose a military staff consisting of the Adjutant General and not more than twelve aides selected from the commissioned officers of the Maryland National Guard and naval militia. The Governor's military staff directs the functions of the Military Department (Code Public Safety Article, secs. 13-301 through 13-306).

Organized in 2003, the Governor's Policy Office merged with the Legislative Office in January 2004 to form the Legislative and Policy Office. In 2007, it was restructured again as the Office of Policy.

By 1967, the Press Office was known as the Public Relations Office. By 1971, it was called the News Office. In 1979, it became the Press Office. Renamed the Communications Office in 1995, it later resumed the name, Press Office.

The Press Office assists the Governor with communications to the public and the media, speechwriting, and research.

In July 2016, the Office of Transformation and Renewal formed.

Throughout State Government, the Office works to improve efficiency and customer service while adhering to greater accountability and performance standards.

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