Fred L. Wineland Building, 16 Francis St., Annapolis, MD 21401

[photo, Wineland Building (State House in background), 16 Francis St., Annapolis, Maryland] The office of Secretary of State was created by constitutional amendment in 1838 to replace the Governor's Council (Chapter 197, Acts of 1836; confirmed by Chapter 84, Acts of 1837).

Appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, the Secretary of State attests to the Governor's signature on public papers and documents (Const., Art. II, secs. 22-23). The office is the repository for all executive orders and proclamations and is responsible for their distribution (Code State Government Article, secs. 3-404, 3-405). The Secretary of State also maintains records of all commissions issued and appointments made by the Governor (Code State Government Article, secs. 7-101 through 7-222).

Wineland Building (State House in background), 16 Francis St., Annapolis, Maryland, March 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

With regard to elections, the Secretary of State receives petitions to bring Acts of the General Assembly to referendum, and publishes them together with constitutional amendments to be voted upon in the general elections (Const., Art. XVI; Code Election Law Article, sec. 6-205). Upon the presidential primary ballot, the Secretary may place the names of those candidates determined to be advocated generally or recognized in the media (Code Election Law Article, sec. 8-502).

Bills adopted by the General Assembly and approved by the Governor are received and assigned chapter numbers by the Secretary of State (Code State Government Article, sec. 2-1511). The Secretary also advertises and records all the Governor's pardons and commutations.

The Secretary of State is the designated custodian of the Great Seal of Maryland, and provides guidance on its use.

On the Governor's Executive Council, the Secretary of State serves as a member, and chairs the Governor's Subcabinet for International Affairs. The Secretary of State also is a member of the Board of State Canvassers, and the Maryland 250 Commission.

Under the Secretary of State are four main divisions: Administration and Support Services; Charities and Legal Services; Safety and Support Services; and State Documents.


The Administration and Support Services Division began as Personnel Services and Operations, and reorganized as Administration and Human Resources in February 1999. It reformed as the Administration, Finance, and Human Resources Division in September 2003, and as the Support Services Division in April 2011. The Division adopted its present name in 2013.

The Division is responsible for the general administrative functions of the Secretary of State, and oversees three units: Certifications, Service, and Trade and Service Marks.


[photo, Jeffrey Building (now Wineland Building), 16 Francis St., Annapolis, Maryland] The Charities and Legal Services Division formed in July 1, 2000 from the merger of the Charitable Organizations Division with Legal Services and Registrations. Organized in 1997, Legal Services and Registrations had been concerned with condominiums, cooperatives, disclosures, housing authorities, notaries public, special police and railroad police, time-shares, and trade and service marks. Now, the Charities and Legal Services Division oversees those functions, and regulates charitable organizations, professional solicitors, and fund-raising counsel that are required to register and file reports annually (Code Business Regulation Article, secs. 6-101 through 6-701).

Jeffrey Building (now Wineland Building), 16 Francis St., Annapolis, Maryland, June 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Under the Charities and Legal Services Division are two main sections: Charities and Notaries, and Legal Services.

Under Charities and Notaries, the Charitable Giving Information Program provides the public with access to information about charities so that they may give wisely. The section also regulates raffles of real property by charitable organizations.

Charities and Notaries is responsible for Charities and Notaries Investigations; Charities Registration; the Maryland Charity Campaign; Notaries Public; and Professional Solicitors, Fundraising Counsel, and Public Safety Solicitor Registration.


Legal Services has certain legal duties regarding Ceremonial Pen Request, Certificate of Incumbancy; Condominiums and Time-Shares; Executive Orders, Extraditions and Pardons, Governor's Board and Commission Appointments, Manual Signatures, and Special Police and Railroad Police Commissions.


Created in July 2016, the Safety and Support Services Division is responsible for the Address Confidentiality Program for Victims of Domestic Violence (Maryland Safe-at-Home), and the Human-Trafficking Address Confidentiality Program.

The Address Confidentiality Program for Victims of Domestic Violence (Maryland Safe-at-Home) was initiated in October 2006 within the Administration, Finance and Human Resources Division. It transferred to report directly to the Secretary of State in 2011, and in 2015 was made part of the Charities and Legal Services Division. In July 2016, it moved to the Safety and Support Services Division.

The Program protects victims of domestic violence by providing an alternative address for official purposes and documents so their actual address is not revealed (Chapters 374 & 375, Acts of 2006).

In October 2014, the Human-Trafficking Address Confidentiality Program was established within the Office of Secretary of State (Chapter 345, Acts of 2014). It was placed under the Charities and Legal Services Division in 2015. In July 2016, it moved to the Safety and Support Services Division.

The Program enables State and local agencies to respond to requests for public records without jeopardizing the location of a victim of human trafficking.


Fred L. Wineland Building, 16 Francis St., Annapolis, MD 21401

Within the Office of the Secretary of State, the Division of State Documents was created in 1974 (Chapter 600, Acts of 1974; Code State Government Article, secs. 7-201 through 7-222).

Appointed by the Governor, the Administrator is responsible for publication of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), the Maryland Register, and the online versions of these publications.

The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), is the permanent compilation of all State agency regulations, and the Governor's executive orders. As COMAR Online, the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) was placed on the Internet in 2000.

Issued every two weeks, the Maryland Register serves as a temporary supplement to COMAR. The Register prints all proposed, adopted and emergency regulations of the State's administrative agencies; notices of public hearings and meetings; the full text of all opinions of the Attorney General; proposed and adopted rules of court; hearing calendars of the Courts of Appeal; synopses of all legislation proposed and enacted by the General Assembly; all executive orders; all gubernatorial appointments; all opinions issued by the State Ethics Commission; and any other document the General Assembly requires or the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) permits to be published. An index to the Register is published quarterly and is cumulative throughout the year. All adopted regulations, and executive orders that are permanent in nature, periodically are taken from the pages of the Register and integrated into COMAR by means of published supplements.

With the exception of emergency regulations, administrative regulations are not effective until notice of their adoption is published in the Maryland Register. The text of any document appearing in the Maryland Register and COMAR is the only official, valid and enforceable text of that document. Any document appearing in the Maryland Register and COMAR is accorded judicial notice in all court proceedings (Code State Government Article, sec. 7-217; Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, sec. 10-203).

The Maryland Register Online began publication in 2000.


In 1984, the Maryland Information Retrieval System went on-line. The System was a computerized information retrieval service for State statutes; adopted, proposed and emergency regulations; and executive orders. It enabled persons to access information in Division databases, and also was used to compose COMAR supplement pages.

In 1999, the Maryland Contract Weekly went on the web, followed by COMAR Online, Maryland Register Online, and Maryland Contract Weekly Online in 2000. These electronic versions of the Division's mandated publications replaced the Maryland Information Retrieval System. Effective July 1, 2006, the Maryland Contract Weekly was superseded by eMaryland Marketplace, an online service of the Department of General Services.

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