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Maryland Manual, 1994-95
Volume 186, Page 41   View pdf image
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Maryland Manual 1994-1995 Legislature /41

for at a time when the General Assembly convened every two years instead of annually, but as recently as
1992, the Governor called the General Assembly into special session twice. The Governor cannot adjourn
the General Assembly, but before any proposed adjournment sine die, the General Assembly must ask if
the Governor wishes to make any further communications to either house (Senate Rule 111; House Rule
111). Both houses must agree to adjourn.

County Legislation. The General Assembly spends considerable time dealing with local issues, ordi-
nances, and expenditures. The Constitution adopted in 1867 kept the power to pass public local laws
vested in the General Assembly. In essence, this gave control of county government to county delegations
in the General Assembly. Since 1948, however, thirteen counties and Baltimore City have opted for some
form of home rule, allowing the General Assembly a more statewide focus. The Municipal Home Rule
Amendment of 1954 virtually prohibits the General Assembly from passing local legislation for incorpo-
rated cities and towns, although the Assembly retains its power to pass a general statewide law that affects
them (Const., Art. XI-E). Power to regulate elections and to license and regulate the manufacture and
sale of alcoholic beverages, however, is reserved to the General Assembly, and home rule counties are
limited to exercising the powers enumerated in the Express Powers Act (Code 1957, Art. 25A, sec. 5).

Referendum. Local bills passed by the General Assembly may include a referendum provision that
requires submission of the bill to voter approval. With the exception of a proposed amendment to the
Constitution, a statewide bill may not be submitted by the General Assembly to referendum, because such
an action has been construed by the courts to constitute a delegation of the legislature's lawmaking powers.
Most statewide bills (except appropriations) and any local bill that concerns a county or Baltimore City,
however, may be petitioned to a referendum by the voters. No bill subject to referendum, except an
emergency bill, is enforceable until approved by a majority of the voters at the next election. An emergency
bill subject to referendum goes into effect upon passage and remains effective for thirty days following its
rejection by the voters (Const., Art. XVI).

Additional Powers. The House of Delegates has sole power to impeach officers and judges of the State.
A majority of all members of the House must approve any bill of impeachment. The Senate tries all
impeachment cases, and two-thirds of the total number of Senators must concur in reaching a verdict of
guilty (Const., Art. III, sec. 26).

Both houses elect the State Treasurer by joint ballot. The General Assembly also elects the Governor
or the Lieutenant Governor if the popular election results in a tie or the winning candidate or candidates
are ineligible. 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 Governor at the same time,
the General Assembly must convene and elect a Governor by a majority vote of all members in joint session.
The chosen Governor then nominates a Lieutenant Governor requiring the same confirmation.

The President of the Senate serves as acting Governor if the Lieutenant Governor is unable to do so.
Should a vacancy occur in the office of President of the Senate while the President is authorized to serve
as acting Governor, the Senate must convene and fill the vacancy (Const., Art. II, secs. 1A, 1B, 6, 7A).


Current laws of the State are compiled in the
Annotated Code of Maryland. The General Assembly
changes, adds, and repeals laws through the legis-
lative process of introducing and passing bills.

Ideas for bills, or proposed laws, come from
many sources: constituents, the Governor, govern-
mental agencies, study commissions, special interest
groups, lobbyists, professional associations, and
legislative committees, for example. However, each
bill must be sponsored by a legislator. The State
Constitution mandates that bills be limited to one
subject clearly described by the title of the bill and
be drafted in the style and form of the Annotated
Code (Const., Art. Ill, sec. 29). The one-subject
limitation and the title requirement are safeguards
against fraudulent legislation and allow legislators
and constituents to monitor a bill's progress more
easily. Omnibus bills, common in the U.S. Con-
gress, are clearly forbidden under Maryland law.

At the request of legislators, bills are drafted to
meet constitutional standards by the Department
of Legislative Reference. The Department begins to
receive bill-drafting requests for the next legislative
session shortly after the previous session ends in
mid-April, although bill drafting does not begin in
earnest until July In the interim between sessions,
legislators meet in committees, task forces, and
other groups to study and formulate bill proposals.
From 1991 through 1993, the number of bills
introduced per session has averaged 840 in the
Senate and 1,496 in the House of Delegates. This
volume of bills makes it difficult for each bill to get

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Maryland Manual, 1994-95
Volume 186, Page 41   View pdf image
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