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Maryland Manual, 1983-84
Volume 181, Page 30   View pdf image (33K)
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30/Maryland Manual

The legislative powers of the State of Maryland
are vested in the General Assembly, which con-
sists of two distinct branches, the Senate and the
House of Delegates (Const. 1867, Art. Ill, sec.
1). The General Assembly consists of 188 mem-
bers, with 47 Senators and 141 members of the
House of Delegates. They are elected from 47 leg-
islative districts.

Every Senator or Delegate must be a citizen of
the State and a resident of it for at least one year
preceding the date of his election. For six months
prior to his election he must have resided in his
legislative district. A Senator must be at least
twenty-five years of age at the time of his election
and a Delegate at least twenty-one. No member
of Congress or any person holding a civil or mili-
tary office under the United States Government is
eligible for election to the General Assembly
(Const. 1867, Art. Ill, secs. 9, 10, 11). The term
of each Senator and Delegate is four years from
the second Wednesday of January following the
date of his election (Const. 1867, Art. Ill, sec. 6).
The Governor is required to appoint to any va-
cancy that occurs in either House through death,
resignation, or disqualification a person whose
name is submitted to him in writing by the State
Central Committee of the political party with
which the Delegate or Senator, so vacating, had
been affiliated in the county or district from
which he or she was elected. All persons so
appointed serve for the unexpired portion of the
term (Const. 1867, Art. Ill, sec. 13). Each House
elects its own officers, is judge of the qualifica-
tions and election of its own members, and
establishes rules for the conduct of its business.

The General Assembly meets annually. Ses-
sions begin the second Wednesday in January and
last for a period not longer than ninety days. The
General Assembly may extend its sessions beyond
ninety days, but not to exceed an additional thir-
ty days, by resolution concurred in by three-fifths
vote of the membership in each House. The Gov-
ernor may call special sessions at any time he
deems it necessary (Const. 1867, Art. Ill, sec.
14), but no single special session may last longer
than thirty days.

The General Assembly must pass at each regu-
lar session a budget bill that contains the budget
for the State government for the next fiscal year.
Upon the passage of the bill by both Houses, it
becomes a law without further action (Const.
1867, Art. Ill, sec. 52). By Constitutional
Amendment adopted by the people at the Gener-
al Election held November 7, 1978, the General
Assembly is authorized to enact laws (other than
appropriation bills) that mandate the Governor,
in the preparation of the annual budget, to pro-

vide for the funding of specific programs at speci-
fied levels (Const. 1867, Art. Ill, secs. 52(11) and

Under the provisions of a Constitutional
Amendment ratified by the voters in 1972 (Chap-
ter 369, Acts of 1972), the Senate and the House
of Delegates may adopt a "consent calendar"
procedure permitting bills to be read and voted
upon as a single group on both second and third
readings, affording members of each House rea-
sonable notice of the bills so placed on each con-
sent calendar (Const. 1867, Art. Ill, secs. 27, 28).

The General Assembly has power to pass such
laws as are necessary for the welfare of the State.
It also has the power to pass public local laws for
counties not having home rule powers and for
special taxing areas. The Home Rule Amendment
of 1954 (Const. 1867, Art. XI-E) virtually pro-
hibits the General Assembly from passing local
legislation for incorporated cities and towns, al-
though the Assembly retains its power to pass a
general statewide law that affects them.

The General Assembly may establish such de-
partments of State government as are necessary
for its efficient operation and may establish spe-
cial taxing districts or areas within the State for
the purpose of administering a special function or
functions. The General Assembly may establish
such taxes as are in accordance with the Consti-
tution of the State and of the United States. It
may propose amendments to the State Constitu-
tion, which must be embodied in a regular legisla-
tive bill passed by three-fifths of the total mem-
bership of each House. All amendments to the
Constitution 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 his veto by three-fifths of the mem-
bership of each House. Laws thus approved 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 num-
ber of members of each House, and become law
immediately upon their approval by the Gover-

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, ex-
cept appropriation bills, and any local bill that
concerns a county or Baltimore City, may be sub-
mitted to a referendum by petition. No bill sub-


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Maryland Manual, 1983-84
Volume 181, Page 30   View pdf image (33K)
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