State House
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). 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 maintains records of all commissions issued and appointments made by the Governor.

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 (Code 1957, Art. 33, sec. 23-9). The Secretary also may place upon the presidential primary ballot the names of those candidates determined to be advocated generally or recognized in the media (Code 1957, Art. 33, sec. 12-6).

Bills adopted by the General Assembly and approved by the Governor are received and assigned chapter numbers by the Secretary (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).

Under the Secretary of State are five divisions: Charitable Organizations; Community and Governmental Relations; Legal Services and Registrations; Personnel Services and Operations; and State Documents.


The Charitable Organizations Division 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 records executive orders of the Governor and administers extraditions.

Executive Orders. 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).

Extraditions. 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.


The Secretary of State serves as the Governor's liaison to local governments. Within the Office of the Secretary of State, the Community and Governmental Relations 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.

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.


Organized in 1997, Legal Services and Registrations is concerned with condominiums, cooperatives, disclosures, housing authorities, notaries public, special police and railroad police, time-shares, and trade and service marks.

Condominiums. 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).

Cooperatives. 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 and Associations Article, secs. 5-6B-05; 5-6B-09 through 5-6B-11).

Disclosures. 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 and Procurement Article, sec. 13-221).

Housing Authorities. 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).

Notaries Public. 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 Division (Code 1957, Art. 68).

Special Police & Railroad Police. The Secretary of State Police 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 1957, Art. 41, sec. 4-901; Art. 23, sec. 258).

Time-Shares. 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).

Trade & Service Marks. 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).


Personnel Services and Operations is responsible for certifications, and computer services and information technology.

Certifications. 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.


P.O. Box 2249
11 Bladen St.
Annapolis, MD 21404

The Division of State Documents was created within the Office of the Secretary of State in 1974 (Chapter 600, Acts of 1974). Appointed by the Governor, the Administrator is responsible for publication of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), the Maryland Register, and the Maryland Contract Weekly. The Administrator also oversees the Maryland Information Retrieval System (MIRS).

The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), is the permanent compilation of the Governor's executive orders, all State agency regulations, and all opinions issued by the State Ethics Commission.

The Maryland Register, a bi-weekly publication, 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, enacted, and vetoed by the General Assembly; all executive orders; all gubernatorial appointments; notices of bids requested and awards announced on all State contracts valued above $25,000; 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, secs. 7-201 through 7-222).

The Maryland Contract Weekly began in 1992 under the name Maryland Register Contract Weekly, assuming its present name in 1994. Maryland Contract Weekly publishes notices of bids requested and awards announced on all State contracts valued above $25,000. Since 1993, county and municipal bid and award notices may be published in the Weekly (Chapter 509, Acts of 1993). Synopses of all decisions by the Board of Contract Appeals also appear regularly.

The Maryland Information Retrieval System (MIRS) was created in 1984. The System is a computerized information retrieval service for State statutes; all adopted, proposed and emergency regulations; and executive orders. The System also is used to compose all COMAR supplement pages.

Maryland Constitutional Offices & Agencies

Maryland Manual On-Line

 Maryland Manual On-Line, 1998

July 10, 1998   
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