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Maryland Manual, 1989-90
Volume 184, Page 5   View pdf image (33K)
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Maryland Govemment/5


Maryland government is based on a written
compact known as the Constitution of Maryland.
The State has had four constitutions. The first was
adopted in 1776 during the Revolutionary War, the
second in 1851, and the third in 1864. The fourth
and present constitution was adopted in 1867. It
consists of a declaration of rights, the operational
sections of the Constitution proper, and those
amendments ratified to date.

The source of all power and authority for gov-
erning the State of Maryland lies with its citizens.
The Constitution's Declaration of Rights makes
clear "That all Government of right originates from
the People, is founded in compact only, and is
instituted solely for the good of the whole; and they
have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter,
reform or abolish their Form of Government in such
manner as they may deem expedient. " (Art. 1)

Thus, while responsibility for promoting the
public interest is vested in specific officers and agen-
cies of State government, actual governing author-
ity remains with the registered voters of Maryland.
A registered voter must be eighteen years of age or
older, a citizen of the United States, and a resident
of Maryland thirty days prior to the date of an

Believing that it would be too cumbersome for
all persons to participate directly in the operation
of government, the framers of Maryland's Consti-
tution of 1867 followed precedent established in
earlier Maryland constitutions by delegating power
to elected representatives. They also continued to
separate powers of government into three distinct
branches—the executive, legislative, and judicial—
which exercise certain checks and balances on each


The Executive Branch, consisting of various con-
stitutional officers and agencies, implements and
enforces Maryland's laws and provides executive
direction within a centralized administration. The
chief executive officer is the governor, elected by the
voters for a four-year term each even-numbered
year that is not a presidential election year. The
governor is responsible for ensuring that
Maryland's laws are effectively executed; that cer-
tain appointments as provided by the Constitution
or by law are made; that a budget is presented
annually to the legislature; and, as commander in
chief of the military, that the armed forces of the

State are able to meet any emergency. The governor
may veto legislation passed by the legislature, and
the governor appoints judges to the State judiciary
The governor is assisted by the lieutenant governor,
who runs for election on a joint ballot with the
gubernatorial candidate. Duties of the lieutenant
governor are limited to those assigned by the gov-
ernor. The governor and lieutenant governor each
must be at least thirty years old and a resident and
voter of Maryland for the five years immediately
preceding election.

Other statewide executive officers are also pro-
vided for in the Constitution. The comptroller of
the treasury superintends the fiscal affairs of the
State. The State treasurer accounts for all deposits
and disbursements to or from the State treasury.
The secretary of state attests to the governor's
signature on all public documents and oversees all
executive orders, commissions, and appointments.
The attorney general serves as legal counsel to the
governor, the legislature, and all State departments,
boards, and most commissions. Each of these exec-
utive officers serves a four-year term. The voters
elect the comptroller and attorney general. The
treasurer is selected by joint ballot of both houses
of the General Assembly and the secretary of state
is appointed by the governor. An important agency
of the executive department is the Board of Public
Works, composed of the governor, the comptroller,
and the treasurer. The Board approves all sums
expended through State loans, most capital im-
provements, and the sale, lease, or transfer of all real
property owned by the State.

Until recently, Maryland, like most states, had
experienced a steady proliferation of governmental
agencies, boards, and commissions as the need for
public services increased. Between 1969 and 1972,
the executive branch of government was reorgan-
ized to bring agencies with related functions to-
gether under a new departmental structure. The
General Assembly passed legislation creating
twelve new cabinet-level departments, encompass-
ing nearly 250 separate governmental entities. In
order of their creation, the twelve departments
were: Health and Mental Hygiene, Budget and
Fiscal Planning, Natural Resources, State Planning,
Personnel, General Services, Human Resources,
Public Safety and Correctional Services, Licensing
and Regulation, Economic and Community Devel-
opment, Transportation, and Agriculture. The
State Department of Education became a principal


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Maryland Manual, 1989-90
Volume 184, Page 5   View pdf image (33K)
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