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The Maryland House of Delegates is the lower house of the General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S.marker state of Marylandmarker, and is composed of 141 Delegates elected from 47 districts. The House chamber is located in the state capitol building on State Circle in Annapolis. The state capitol building also houses the Maryland Senate chamber and the offices of the Governor of the state of Maryland.


The Maryland House of Delegates originated as the Lower House of the General Assembly in 1650, when the legislature became a bicameral body. The Lower House often fought with the Upper House for political influence in the colony. The Upper House consisted of the governor and his council, all personally appointed by Lord Baltimore, and were thus more dedicated to protect his interests in Maryland. Conversely, the Lower House pushed for change in the colony, claiming to be the true elected representatives of the people. In this context, the Lower House continually fought for more power by asserting exclusive rights in certain legislative areas, such as levying taxes and originating money bills.

The governor also had some measure of control over the Lower House in the late seventeenth century. Despite the fact that each county was entitled to elect four delegates, the governor selected only two of these to sit in the Lower House. This enabled the governor to control the Lower House's membership.

In 1689, the transfer of Maryland from a proprietary colony to a royal colony temporarily quieted the disputes between the Lower House and the governor and council. Appointed by the crown, the royal governors allowed the Lower House substantial latitude with its legislative agenda. The first royal assembly, in 1692, passed 85 acts in a single session. The Lower House immediately acted to remove the governor's influence over the election of delegates. Now, elected delegates could attend the session without the need for a special writ from the governor. At the same time, standing or continuing committees were established. These eliminated the Lower House's reliance on ad hoc committees and created the first modern legislature in Maryland. During this period, the Lower House became known as the House of Delegates.

The Constitution of 1776 formally established the modern House of Delegates. Initially, representation was based on geography as the voters of each county elected four delegates, and two each were elected from Annapolismarker and Baltimoremarker. These delegates served one-year terms (increased to two years in 1845 and four years in 1922, as it is today).

Beginning with the 1838 elections, each county elected at least three and up to six delegates depending on its population. Baltimore City elected the same number of delegates as did the most populous county, but after 1840, Annapolis was considered part of Anne Arundel Countymarker. Reapportionment was required after every federal census in an attempt to achieve equal representation.

The current pattern for distribution of seats in the House of Delegates began with the legislative apportionment plan of 1972 and has been revised every ten years thereafter. The plan created 47 legislative districts, many of which cross county boundaries to delineate districts relatively equal in population. Each legislative district sends three delegates for a total of 141 members of the House. Some of the larger districts are divided into delegate subdistricts to provide local representation to areas not large enough to constitute an entire legislative district.

Powers and functions

The powers and functions of the Maryland House of Delegates are outlined in the Maryland Constitution. Along with the State Senate, the House has the power to approve laws, establish executive departments, levy taxes, and propose state constitutional amendments. Both house also have the power to elect the state treasurer and to appoint a new Governor if the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor are simultaneously vacant. In addition, the House of Delegates has the sole power to impeach members of the executive branch, including the Governor. Once the House of Delegates has passed articles of impeachment, the person impeached stands trial before the State Senate.


The House of Delegates utilizes a number of different organizational structures. Much of the work of drafting and reviewing bills is done by six standing committees; Appropriations, Economic Matters, Environmental Matters, Health and Government Operations, Judiciary, and Ways and Means. Each of these committees is then divided further into subcommittees by issue area. An additional committee, Executive Nominations, has the responsibility for confirming appointments of the Governor. Delegates also divide themselves into a variety of legally recognized work groups, Joint and Special Committees, caucuses, and geographic delegations. The two largest caucuses are those of the Democratic and Republican Parties. Smaller caucuses might group Delegates by identity, such as the Women's Caucus or Legislative Black Caucus, or by issue or area of experience, such as the Veteran's Caucus or the Green Caucus.


Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Independent Vacant
End of previous legislature 104 36 1 141 0
Begin 104 36 1 141 0
Latest voting share 73.8% 26.2%
  • For organizational purposes, the Independent caucuses with the Republicans.


Current leadership in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Position Name Party District
Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch Democratic 30
Speaker Pro Tempore Adrienne A. Jones Democratic 10
Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve Democratic 17
Majority Whip Talmadge Branch Democratic 45
Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell Republican 29C
Minority Whip Christopher B. Shank Republican 2B


Color key:
3 sub-districts 2 sub-districts 1 sub-districts

See also


External links

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