[color photograph of State House] State House (view from School St.),
Annapolis, Maryland, November 1999.
Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

During the colonial period, Maryland's Proprietors - the Lords Baltimore - designated who would serve as governor on their behalf. From 1692 to 1715, when Maryland briefly was a royal colony, the Crown appointed the governor. Lord Baltimore regained control of Maryland in 1715 and chose a governor for the colony until the American Revolution.

Under Maryland's first constitution of 1776, the Governor was chosen annually by joint ballot of both houses of the General Assembly (Const. 1776, sec. 25). In 1838, by constitutional amendment, voters began to elect the Governor every three years from one of three rotating gubernatorial districts (Chapter 197, Acts of 1836, ratified 1837). At each election, only voters from a single gubernatorial election district selected the Governor. By 1851, the Governor's term of office was lengthened to four years (Const. 1851, Art. 2, sec. 1). The Constitution of 1864 eliminated the rotating gubernatorial election districts. Since the election of 1868, the Governor has been elected by all the voters of the State.

The Governor is chief executive officer of the State and commander-in-chief of its military forces. Elected by popular vote for a term of four years, the Governor takes office on the third Wednesday of January following election. No person may serve as Governor for more than two consecutive terms. To be eligible for the office of Governor, a person must be at least thirty years of age and must have been a resident and registered voter of the State for five years immediately preceding election (Const., Art. II, secs. 1, 3, 5, 8, 21, 21A).

To each annual session of the General Assembly, the Governor must submit a budget of government for the following fiscal year. The Governor also may inform the General Assembly at any time of the condition of the State (Const., Art. II, sec. 19; Art. III, sec. 52(3)). Most commonly, this occurs through a State-of-the-State address at the beginning of a regular legislative session.

Every bill passed by the General Assembly, except the annual budget bill, must be presented to the Governor before it becomes law. The Governor may sign the bill into law or veto it. Any bill that the Governor vetoes may be passed without his signature by three-fifths vote of the total number of members of each house of the General Assembly, either at the current session or at the session following. If a bill is presented more than six days before the General Assembly adjourns and is not vetoed within six days, or if a bill is presented within six days prior to the adjournment of the General Assembly and is not vetoed within thirty days after its presentment, then the bill becomes law without the Governor's signature. The Governor may veto any part of an appropriations bill, in the same manner as other bills, without vetoing it in its entirety (Const., Art. II, sec. 17; Art. III, sec. 52(6)).

The Governor is commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State - the National Guard - except when such forces are called into the national service. If the National Guard is called, the Governor may establish a State Guard.

The Governor appoints all military and civil officers of the State subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, except when the election or appointment of such officers otherwise is provided for. In addition to appointing the heads of major departments, boards, and commissions of the State government, the Governor appoints certain boards and commissions in each county and the City of Baltimore, as provided for by law. The Governor also commissions notaries public and appoints persons to fill vacancies in the offices of Attorney General, Comptroller, and seats in the General Assembly. Any officer appointed by the Governor, except a member of the General Assembly, is removable by him for cause.

The Governor may grant pardons to persons convicted of criminal acts against the State, commute the sentences of prisoners of the State, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses against the State. The Governor may extradite prisoners or persons wanted by other states upon the presentation of a writ of extradition and may issue a warrant for the arrest of any person so wanted. The Governor also may ask for the return to this State of any prisoner or person of another state wanted for the violation of the laws of Maryland (Const., Art. II, sec. 20).

By virtue of his office, the Governor serves on certain boards and commissions. The Governor chairs the Board of Public Works and the Governor's Executive Council (Cabinet) and serves on the Maryland Environmental Trust; the Maryland State Employees Risk Management Advisory Council; the Maryland Veterans Home Commission; and the Governor's Work Force Investment Board. The Governor also is a member of several interstate boards: the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chesapeake Executive Council; the Education Commission of the States; the Interstate Mining Commission; the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin; the Southern Regional Education Board; the Southern States Energy Board; and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.


The Office of the Governor is organized under the Chief of Staff. Appointed by the Governor, the Chief of Staff oversees the Governor's Appointments Office, Office of Legal Counsel and Regulatory Affairs, Legislative Office, Press Office, and the Washington Office, as well as the Office for Individuals with Disabilities, and the Office of Minority Affairs. Reporting directly to the Chief of Staff, three Deputy Chiefs of Staff are responsible for the functions of government carried out by the seventeen principal executive departments.

The Appointments Office formally organized by 1967 within the Office of the Governor.

The Office of Legal Counsel and Regulatory Affairs originated as Legal, Labor, and Special Issues in 1991. It reorganized in 1995 under its present name.

The Legislative Office formally organized by 1967 within the Office of the Governor.

By 1967, the Press Office was known as the Public Relations Office. By 1971, it was called the News Office. In 1979, it became the Press Office. Renamed the Communications Office in 1995, it later resumed the name, Press Office.


Fifth Regiment Armory
219 29th Division St.
Baltimore, MD 21201 - 2288

The Governor may choose a military staff consisting of the Adjutant General and not more than twelve aides selected from the commissioned officers of the Maryland National Guard and naval militia. The Goverrnor's military staff directs the functions of the Military Department (Code 1957, Art. 65, sec. 9).

Maryland Constitutional Offices & Agencies
Maryland Departments
Maryland Independent Agencies
Maryland Executive Commissions, Committees, Task Forces, & Advisory Boards
Maryland at a Glance

Maryland Manual On-Line

 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2000

July 18, 2000   
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