[color photograph of State House (from Rowe Blvd.), Annapolis]

Executive Branch

Legislative Branch

Judicial Branch

State House (from Rowe Blvd.), Annapolis, Maryland, April 1999. Photo by Diane P. Frese.


Statehood. In Maryland, State government began when the 9th Provincial Convention adopted the first constitution of Maryland on November 8, 1776.

Maryland, on April 28, 1788, became the seventh state to ratify the federal Constitution.

Executive Branch. The Governor is the chief executive of the State. Elected by the voters to a four-year term, the Governor presides over the Governor's Executive Council. Known as the cabinet, the Council includes the heads of the eighteen departments which oversee most State government agencies.

Legislative Branch. The General Assembly, Maryland's bicameral legislature, consists of the Senate, led by the Senate President, and the House of Delegates, led by the House Speaker. As of January 10, 2001, the 47-member Senate has 34 Democrats and 13 Republicans. As of the same date, the 141-member House of Delegates includes 106 Democrats and 35 Republicans.

To enact laws, the General Assembly convenes annually on the second Wednesday in January for a 90-day session. In 2001, the General Assembly is convening its 415th session from January 10 to April 9.

Judicial Branch. The Judiciary is headed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Four court divisions make up the Judicial Branch: the Court of Appeals, the Court of Special Appeals, the Circuit Courts, and the District Court of Maryland. In addition, each county orphans' court has responsibility for probate.

Within the Executive Branch, the Maryland Tax Court hears appeals on tax issues, and administrative law judges of the Office of Administrative Hearings review contested decisions in State administrative law cases.


Local Government. Of the 50 states, Maryland is among those with the fewest number of local governments. Local government is found in Maryland's 23 counties. Moreover, some 157 towns and cities (including Baltimore City) have their own governments. Created by State, county and municipal governments, special taxing districts exist in Montgomery County as well.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2001

April 1, 2001   
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