The St. Mary’s County Commissioners have expressed interest in a move toward the code home rule form of government, a move which would require county voter approval. The additional control over local matters, without the need for state legislation, is a chief driver of the interest.
The commissioners said this week they are interested in making the change. Under code home rule, county commissioners remain in charge of local government, but with more authority to enact local laws.
Under the county commissioner form of government, local laws have to be passed at the state level by the Maryland General Assembly. Under code home rule, “commissioners can enact, amend or repeal local laws on a wide array of matters,” according to the Maryland Association of Counties. “The General Assembly may still enact public local laws covering an entire class of code counties, but not for one single code county.”
St. Mary’s County is one of six jurisdictions in Maryland still with the county commissioner form of government. Six other Maryland counties use code home rule. The remaining local governments in the state use charter home rule, which replaces the commissioners with a council and county executive. That is not under consideration for St. Mary’s.