Branches of Government

As the level of government that is closest to you, we provide direct services to you every day. Since there are no incorporated cities or towns in Howard County, the County government provides all local government services.

Howard County Government consists of two branches, Executive and Legislative.

A state-operated Judicial branch has Howard County offices.

The Executive Branch

The Executive Branch of the County government consists of the County Executive and all its officers, agents and employees and is the leadership branch. The County Executive is the chief executive officer of the County and the official head of the County government.

  • Includes the County Executive and Departments
  • Proposes and administers the operating and capital budgets, carries out policies established by legislation, interacts with the state and other local governments, helps residents resolve concerns and delivers services to residents
The Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch consists of the County Council, its officers and employees and County Auditor. There are five council members who are elected every four years. The Council is the law-making branch of the County.

  • Includes the County Council and the County Auditor
  • Functions as the legislative branch of government. Five council members enact laws for the county, authorize the operating and capital budgets, refer residents to appropriate agencies and help residents solve problems. The five also sit as the Board of License commissioners (Liquor Board) and Zoning Board. The Auditor provides technical assistance to the council on financial matters, reviews the annual budget, and is in charge of the county's annual financial audit and audits of county departments
The Judicial Branch

The Judicial Branch, administered by the state, deals with the court system and interpreting/executing the law. It is a part of Maryland's judicial system, including:  

  • Circuit Court: The Circuit Court is part of the Judicial Branch of government and is a court of general jurisdiction. Circuit Court hears jury trials, juvenile, family law, serious criminal matters and complex civil matters. Circuit Court also hears appeals from the District Court of Maryland, Orphans Court and Administrative Agencies
  • District Court: The jurisdiction of the court includes all landlord-tenant cases, replevin actions, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors and certain felonies
  • Orphans' Court: The Maryland Orphans’ Court is the state’s probate court. It also has jurisdiction over guardianships of minors. In simpler terms, the main job of the Orphans’ Court is to supervise the handling of estates of people who have died – with or without a Will – while owning property in their sole name
  • Sheriff's Office: law enforcement for the courts, providing security, serving papers, carrying out judgments in evictions and judicial sales, transporting prisoners and serving warrants
  • State's Attorney: prosecutes criminal and juvenile cases and determines whether to extradite persons in other areas who have been charged with crimes in Howard County.

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