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[photo, Jeffrey Building, 16 Francis St., Annapolis, Maryland] Jeffrey Building, 16 Francis St., Annapolis, MD 21401

The office of Secretary of State was created by constitutional amendment in 1838 to replace the Governor's Council (Chapter 197, Acts of 1836; 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).

Jeffrey Building, 16 Francis St., Annapolis, Maryland, June 2006. 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.

Every two years the Secretary of State, with the State Archives, participates in the distribution of the Maryland Manual (Code State Government Article, sec. 9-1027).

The Secretary of State chairs the Governor's Subcabinet for International Affairs, and the Governor's Commission on Maryland Military Monuments. The Secretary also serves on the Governor's Executive Council; the Board of State Canvassers; and the Advisory Committee for the Jefferson Patterson Historical Park and Museum.

Under the Secretary of State are the Address Confidentiality Program for Victims of Domestic Violence (Maryland Safe-at-Home) and four divisions: Administration, Finance, and Human Resources; Charities and Legal Services; International; and State Documents.

Initiated in October 2006 within the Office of Secretary of State, the Address Confidentiality Program for Victims of Domestic Violence (Maryland Safe-at-Home) 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).


Administration, Finance, and Human Resources began as Personnel Services and Operations and reorganized as Administration and Human Resources in February 1999. In September 2003, it adopted its present name. Besides general administrative functions, this office is responsible for Certifications and the Secretary of State's website.

The Secretary of State issues certifications of incumbency, manual signature registrations, and official copies of documents that are a matter of record in the Secretary's office (Code State Government Article, sec. 7-106). The Secretary also issues the apostille certifying documents to be transmitted internationally.


The Charities and Legal Services Division was formed 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).

Under the Division, the Charitable Giving Information Program provides the public with access to information about charities so that they may give wisely. The Division also regulates raffles of real property by charitable organizations. Pursuant to Executive Order of January 1993, the Secretary of State administers the Maryland Charity Campaign for State employees and retirees.

The Division also has certain legal duties regarding Condominiums; Cooperatives; Disclosures; Executive Orders; Extraditions; Housing Authorities; Notaries Public; Special Police and Railroad Police; Time-Shares; and Trade and Service Marks.

The Secretary of State and the Attorney General are charged with enforcing provisions of the Maryland Condominium Act. Residential condominiums offered for sale in Maryland must be registered with the Secretary of State. (Code Real Property Article, secs. 11-127 through 11-130).

A developer who is converting an apartment house into a cooperative must file with the Secretary of State a copy of the notice of conversion and a list containing the name of each tenant to whom notice was given. State law also provides that the office of the Secretary of State establish a file of local legislation affecting cooperatives (Code Corporations & Associations Article, secs. 5-6B-05; 5-6B-09 through 5-6B-11).

Persons whose business with the State or local governments aggregate $100,000 in any one year are required to disclose certain information to the Secretary of State (Code State Finance & Procurement Article, sec. 13-221).

The Secretary of State receives original or certified copies of executive orders from the Governor upon their issuance. These are indexed and retained during the Governor's term of office, then delivered to the State Archives. The Secretary delivers copies of executive orders to the Executive Director of the Department of Legislative Services, and to the Administrator of the Division of State Documents (Code State Government Article, secs. 3-404 through 3-405).

Extradition is a process by which one state surrenders a person accused or convicted of an offense to another state having authority to try the charge. This process is administered by the Secretary of State on behalf of the Governor.

Under the Housing Authorities Law, housing authorities cannot transact business or exercise powers until the Secretary of State reviews their articles of organization and issues a certificate of approval and a certificate of organization (Code 1957, Art. 44A, sec. 1-205).

The Office of the Secretary of State administers the State's notary statutes and issues notary public commissions. Applications, notary public manuals, and related information are available from the Charities and Legal Services Division (Code State Government Article, secs. 18-101 through 18-113).

The Secretary of State reviews applications for the appointment of special police and railroad police and recommends to the Governor whether to grant or deny appointment. The Governor may accept or reject this recommendation. The Secretary of State assists the Governor in this process (Code Public Safety Article, secs. 3-301 through 3-316).

Since 1985, a developer of a time-share project has been required to file with the Secretary of State a public offering (disclosure) statement for the proposed project. If the Secretary of State determines that the public offering statement satisfies the requirements of the Maryland Real Estate Time-Sharing Act, an order of approval is issued (Code Real Property Article, secs. 11A-101 through 11A-129).

If an applicant's mark is registrable, a certificate of registration is issued by the Secretary of State. (Code Business Regulation Article, secs. 1-401 through 1-415).


The International Division of the Office of Secretary of State began as the Community and Governmental Relations Division. It reorganized as the Intergovernmental and International Relations Division in July 2000, as the International and Intergovernmental Division in October 2003, and by its present name early in 2004.

To local governments, the Secretary of State serves as the Governor's liaison. Within the Office of the Secretary of State, the International Division establishes working contacts to strengthen ties between the State and local governments. Periodically, Division staff visits each Maryland county and municipality. The Division also participates in the Maryland Association of Counties, the Maryland Municipal League, and other regional organizations.

The Secretary of State chairs the Governor's Subcabinet for International Affairs, which the Division staffs.

At public events, the Division represents the State of Maryland. It also informs the public about other functions of the Secretary of State, such as charitable registration and solicitation regulations, extradition, and the notary process.

The Maryland Sister States Program was initiated in 1986 under the Department of Economic and Employment Development. In 1995, it reorganized as the Sister States Group under the Office of International Trade within the Department of Business and Economic Development. On October 1, 2004, the Program transferred to the Office of the Secretary of State (Chapter 39, Acts of 2004; Code State Government Article, sec. 7-109).

The Program works to establish and foster relationships between Maryland and states in other countries. A sister-state relationship promotes cooperation and exchange programs for businesses and industry, educational and cultural institutions, and private citizens. Volunteer committees actively pursue contacts with their counterparts in each sister state, forming a network of resources to share in education, business, culture, medicine, law, transportation, sports, professional development, and women's issues.

Maryland has ten sister-state partnerships with: Anhui Province, China; State of Jalisco, Mexico; Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan; Gyeongsangnam Province, South Korea; City of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, Russia; Lodz Region, Poland; State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Walloon Region, Belgium; Nord-Pas de Calais, France; and Bong County and Maryland County, Liberia.


Jeffrey Building, 16 Francis St., Annapolis, MD 21401

The Division of State Documents was created within the Office of the Secretary of State 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 the Governor's executive orders and all State agency regulations.

In 2000, the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) was placed on the Internet as COMAR Online.

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.

Online Services started in 1984 as the Maryland Information Retrieval System. The System was a computerized information retrieval service for State statutes; adopted, proposed and emergency regulations; and executive orders. It also was used to compose all COMAR supplement pages.

In 1999, the Maryland Contract Weekly went on the web, followed by COMAR Online and the 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, and online service of the Department of General Services.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2009

July 1, 2009   
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