BALTIMORE CITY, MARYLAND

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


[photo, City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland]

CITY COUNCIL

In Baltimore, the City Council constitutes the Legislative Branch of government. It considers bills (proposed legislation) offered by Council members and assigned to the Council's standing committees for consideration and hearings.

Serving four-year terms, the City Council consists of fifteen members. Fourteen of these are elected by Council district voters. One at-large member is elected as City Council President by voters throughout the City.

While formerly members served four-year terms, effective January 2013, those members elected in 2011 were designated to serve five-year terms in order to align the City's elections with those of the State. With the elections of 2016, City Council members returned to four-year terms (Chapter 548, Acts of 2012; City Charter, Art. III, secs. 1-14).

City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland, June 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


STANDING COMMITTEES

To review proposed legislation, the City Council formerly had worked through thirteen standing committees: Budget and Appropriations; Cybersecurity; Education and Youth; Executive Appointments; Health; Housing and Urban Affairs; Investigations; Judiciary; Labor; Land Use; Public Safety; Taxation, Finance and Economic Development; and Transportation.

In December 2020, the City Council President consolidated these thirteen committees into six standing committees: Economic and Community Development; Education, Workforce and Youth; Health, Environment and Technology.; Public Safety and Government Operations; Rules and Legislative Oversight; and Ways and Means.

ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
The Economic and Community Development Committee started as the Taxation and Finance Committee, which functioned from approximately 1992 to 2007. It reorganized in 2007 as the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, and as the Economic and Community Development Committee in December 2020.

The Housing and Urban Affairs Committee started as the Housing Committee which had organized by 1992. Some of its functions were assumed by the Education, Housing, Health and Human Services Committee. Others were carried out by the Community Development Subcommittee of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee. Functions of that subcommittee were restructured as part of the Housing and Community Development Committee in 2011.

In December 2016, the Housing and Community Development Committee merged with the Urban Affairs and Aging Committee to form the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

EDUCATION, WORKFORCE & YOUTH COMMITTEE
The Education and Youth Committee started as the Education and Human Resources Committee by 1992. It later became the Education, Housing, Health and Human Services Committee. It reformed as the Education Committee in 2007, became the Education and Youth Committee in 2014, and reorganized as the Education, Workforce and Youth Committee in December 2020.

HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT & TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE
In June 2019, the Health, Environment and Technology Committee began as the Health Committee. In December 2020, it was reorganized under its present name.

PUBLIC SAFETY & GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS COMMITTEE
The Public Safety and Government Operations Committee began as the Public Safety and Health Committee. In 2010, it reformed as the Public Safety Committee, and in December 2020, it was reorganized as the Public Safety and Government Operations Committee.

RULES & LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
Functions of the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee became the responsibility of the Judiciary and Legislative Investigation Committee by 2007. That committee's work was divided between the Judiciary Committee and the separate Legislative Investigations Committee in June 2019. The Legislative Investigations Committee reformed in December 2020 as the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee.

WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE
The Ways and Means Committee was authorized in December 2020.


BOARD OF ESTIMATES

Fiscal policy for the City is developed and executed by the Board of Estimates. The Board also supervises all contracts and purchases awarded by the City, sets City employee salaries and wages, and establishes procedures for payment of bonds to and claims against the City.

Annually, the Board holds hearings on the operating budget proposed by the Finance Director. To the President of the City Council, it then submits an ordinance of estimates, which consists of an operating budget, a capital budget, and a contingent fund appropriation to cover possible emergencies.

The Board of Estimates consists of five ex officio members: the Mayor; the City Comptroller; the City Council President; the City Solicitor; and the Director of the Department of Public Works. The City Council President serves as President of the Board (City Charter, Art. VI).


BOARD OF LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE

[photo, City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland] The Board of Legislative Reference governs the Department of Legislative Reference.

Serving on the Board are a representative of the City Council and six ex officio members: the Mayor; the City Solicitor; the President of The Johns Hopkins University; the Dean of the Carey School of Law, University of Maryland; the Dean of the School of Law, University of Baltimore; and the Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (City Charter, Art. VII, sec. 93).


City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland, June 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE
Work of the Department of Legislative Reference is concerned with legislative matters, and records and archives. Appointed by the Board of Legislative Reference, the Director supervises and directs the Department.

At the request of the Mayor, City Council committees, or heads of City departments, the Director investigates and reports upon the laws of Maryland and other states and cities; and compiles data showing the practical operation and effect of such laws. The Director also investigates and collects information relating to any matter which is the subject of proposed legislation by the General Assembly, or the City Council; and examines and reports on acts, ordinances, and records of any state or city, to the Mayor, City Council committee, or City department heads.

Upon request of any City Council member, the Director prepares or advises in the preparation of any bill, ordinance, or resolution; preserves and collects all information obtained, carefully indexed and arranged, so as to be at all times easily accessible to City officers and open to the inspection of the general public.

The Director keeps all books, documents, archives, records, official plats, papers, and proceedings of the City, except those in current use or whose custody the Board of Estimates shall by resolution otherwise direct or authorize. A complete series of the ordinances, resolutions, and proceedings of the City is collected, arranged and safely kept by the Director. Moreover, other documents pertaining to the City, which the Director deems to have historic value, or which by ordinance or resolution the Board of Estimates directs be kept, are received and kept by the Director. While such books, documents, papers, plats, or archives are retained in the Department, they are available for inspection and reproduction by the public under such reasonable regulations and supervision as the Director may prescribe. In addition, the Director prepares and keeps an index of all books, papers, records, and documents in the custody of the Department; and keeps a current separate index of all rules and regulations of other City departments and agencies (City Charter, Art. VII, sec. 93).

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