84 CONSTITUTION OF MARYLAND [Art. 3]
This section as it stood in the Constitution of 1851, provided that "All laws and
special acts pursuant to this section may be altered at any time or repealed. " The
act of 1898, ch. 17, changing the name of the trustees of the Sheppard Asylum, etc.
(chartered in 1853), was valid. The provision above quoted was a clear and explicit
limitation upon the power of the general assembly to pass thereafter any act of incor-
poration not subject to repeal or amendment. Phinney v. Sheppard Hospital, 88 Md. 638;
Jackson v. Walsh, 75 Md. 311: State v. Northern Central R R. Co., 44 Md. 164. And
see State v. Northern Central R. R. Co., 90 Md. 467 (affirmed in 187 U. S. 258).
Under this section, the legislature may alter or amend a corporation's charter, pro-
vided such amendment does not change fundamentally the nature of the charter and
the objects for which it was granted; the legislature may not, however, divest property
rights, acquired under the legitimate exercise of the powers granted. Where a school was
chartered for the education of females, an amendatory act which authorized the trustees
to lease such of the buildings and grounds as were not necessary for the use of the semi-
nary, for public school purposes, is valid. Webster v. Cambridge Seminary, 78 Md. 202.
The act of 1882, ch. 47, amending the charter of the Baltimore Union, etc., Railway
Company, held not invalid under this section, since said company was incorporated
under the general law of 1876, ch. 242. Hodges v. Baltimore Union P. Ry. Co., 58 Md. 620.
The act of 1882, ch. 495, incorporating the Baltimore Trust and Guarantee Company,
held not invalid under this section, since there was no general law conferring such
rights, or under which a company could have been formed with such powers, as were
granted by said act. Reed v. Baltimore Trust, etc., Co., 72 Md. 533.
This section held not to operate retrospectively, and hence the act of 1865, ch. 206,
chartering the Lincoln Coal, etc., Company (later the New Central Coal Company),
was not abrogated by this section. New Central Coal Co. v. George's Creek Co., - 37
Md. 556 (decided prior to the amendment ratified in 1891).
The charter of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (act of 1826, ch. 123) constitutes
a contract between the railroad and the state; the tax exemption conferred by sec. 18
may not therefore be repealed. The insertion in a mortgage executed by a railroad
company of the covenant that it would pay certain taxes does not bring that railroad
within the terms of the last portion of this section, since the acts relating to the
taxation of mortgages do not apply to mortgages executed by a railroad company to a
trustee to secure bonds sold to investors. The sale by the state of its interest in the
Washington Branch of the B. & O., held not to be the granting of any privilege or
right within the contemplation of the last portion of this section. The acceptance by
the B. & O. of rights under certain ordinances of the mayor and city council of Balti-
more, amounting to police regulations of the laying of tracks and switches, is not such
an acceptance of rights and privileges as brings the B. & O. within the last portion of
this section. The Constitutions of 1851 and 1867 do not deny to the state all power to
enter into an irrepealable contract with a corporation. State v. B. & O. R. R. Co.,
127 Md. 437.
The portion of this section providing that charters may be altered or repealed,
held not intended to confer upon the general assembly the power to deprive the citizen
of his property contrary to law, or to take private property for public use without
just compensation; this provision must be so construed as to harmonize and preserve
the general constitutional restraints upon legislation in regard to private property.
Act of 1914, ch, 37, requiring the United Railways to pay for repaving the streets
between and for two feet on either side of its tracks, held void; the street railway
company may not be so assessed where no special benefit is conferred upon it by the
improvement. United R. & E. Co. v. Baltimore, 127 Md. 664.
Acts incorporating municipal corporations may be made binding upon those within
the limits, without consent, or only upon consent, as the legislature determines; over
such corporation the legislature, except as restrained by the Constitution, has entire
control. This section leaves to the legislature the enactment of such details as it
deems proper in the management of a municipal corporation. The legislature held to
have the right, in incorporating the town of Bowie, to name the commissioners. John-
son v. Luers, 129 Md. 530.
This section prohibits the legislature from granting a charter for which the general
laws provide. Hagerstown Turnpike Co. v. Evers, 130 Md. 12.
The portion of this section providing that corporations shall not be created by
special act, etc., does not apply to a corporation formed by special act, when the
general law limited the duration of corporations to forty years, and when such special
act authorized it to perpetuate its existence. Singer v. Wyman Memorial Assn.,
138 Md. 406.
This section does not prohibit the legislature from imposing reasonable restrictions
upon the qualified voters of the municipality. This section referred to in construing
art. 1, sec. 1—see notes thereto. Hanna v. Young, 84 Md. 182..
This section referred to in upholding the title of the act of 1900, ch. 75, providing
for the establishment of an electric light plant in Hagerstown—see notes to sec. 29.
Mealey v. Hagerstown, 92 Md. 745.