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In 1903 I published a codification of the Public General Laws of Maryland covering the whole body of our General Statute Law down to the Acts passed at the Session of 1902, inclusive.
Some few of the copies of this Code were distributed, but the great bulk of the edition was destroyed in the Baltimore fire of February, 1904.
The need of a new Code being seriously felt, by reason of the many and great changes made in our Public General Laws since the publication in 1888 of the Code of that year which went into effect in January, 1889, the General Assembly at the Session of 1904 passed an Act (chapter 72) legalizing the Code published by me in 1903 and making it evidence of the Public General Laws of the State contained in the then existing Code and of the Public General Laws enacted subsequent thereto, with the proviso that before it be published the Public General Laws enacted by the General Assembly of 1904 be incorporated therein.
Under the authority thus conferred, the present work has been prepared.
In its compilation I have followed the general alphabetical plan and arrangement with which for more than forty years we have been familiar, retaining all the ARTICLES found in the Code of 1888 as therein entitled and numbered ; and thus, with the exceptions of the five new subjects “Immigration,” “Public Accountant,” “Public Works—Board of,” “State Aid and Charities," and “Weather Service,” all of the legislation contained in the several articles of the Code of 1888, together with all the legislation enacted from 1890 to 1904, both inclusive, capable of being embodied in those articles, has been given a proper place in some one of the articles as they stand in our present Code.
Á new article with its appropriate sections is made for each of these five new subjects, but, to avoid change in the numbering of the existing articles and the confusion that would necessarily result from such change, and at the same time to preserve throughout the alphabetical arrangement, these new articles with their several titles are numbered respectively, XLVA, LXXV A, LXXVIII A, LXXXVIII A and XCVI A.
The Constitution (article 3, section 29) declares that "it shall be the duty of the General Assembly in amending any article or section of the Code of laws of this State to enact the same as the said article or section would read when amended, and whenever the General Assembly shall enact any public general law not amendatory of any section or article in the said Code, it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to enact the same in articles and sections in the same manner as the Code is arranged.”
These directions have very frequently been disregarded by the General Assembly, and in amending the existing articles of the Code wrong numbers and erroneous lettering have often been given.
So, too, the numbering of the sections repealed and re-enacted has not always been successive. Again, it has frequently happened that amendments of existing articles or sections were made without any allusion whatsoever to these articles and sections. And again, laws not amendatory of any existing article or section were not enacted in articles and sections in the same manner as the Code is arranged.
In the codification now issued all these constitutional directions have been carried out; the pre-existing law wherever untouched by subsequent legislation is reproduced as contained in the Code of 1888; wherever altered by repeal and re-enactment it is given as so re-enacted, with appropriate references above each section to the original enactment and subsequent modifications, and all the entirely new amendatory and supplemental legislation is introduced in the proper articles.
It was obviously impossible, without perplexing confusion, to retain the same numbers and letters of the Sections of the articles in the old Code and in the subsequent legislation repealing and re-enacting these sections and adding new sections, and hence, from the manifest necessity of the case, the lettering has been discarded and new numbers have been given to the sections wherever this was requisite, but to facilitate the work of tracing the changes and the additions to the preexisting law, references are made above each section showing its origin and subsequent changes.
Reference to the alphabetical index under the heading “Acts of Assembly” will readily show the place where every Public General Act now in force passed since the adoption of the Code of 1888 can be found codified.
The practice has long existed in Maryland of enacting laws applicable only to one or more of the counties of the State, and consequently there are Public Local Laws applicable to one or more of the counties, differing, sometimes slightly and sometimes very materially, from the Public General Laws covering the same general subjects. And so, too, is this the case in a marked degree as to the city of Baltimore by reason of its peculiar condition and needs.
To meet this case and to avoid the difficulty of interpretation which would necessarily arise from having a Public General Law and at the same time a Public Local Law on the same subject applicable only to one or more of the counties or to the city of Baltimore, Rule 12 of the “Rules of Interpretation provides that "where the Public General Law and the Public Local Law of any county, city, town or district are in conflict, the Public Local Law shall prevail.”
It has been found impracticable in this Code of Public General Laws to note everywhere these differing public local laws, and hence, before we can be absolutely certain that the public general law is of universal application throughout the State in all cases, some examination must be made of the public local laws of the several counties and of Baltimore city.
So much public local legislation has been enacted since the publication of the Code of 1888 that there is now an imperative need of a codification of the whole body of this public local law, in order that the differences between the public general law upon any subject and the public local law upon the same subject may be easily ascertained.
It is believed that this Code now published will be found to contain a correct reproduction of the whole body of our existing public general law now in force.
Many of its sections are expressly declared not to apply to one or more counties or to Baltimore city. In these cases no trouble or difficulty can arise.
But where there is no such express limitation or exception in the general law, there may still be contemporaneous or subsequent special local law, inconsistent with the general law, which must, of course, be ascertained and effect given to it, inasmuch as in this codification the public local laws of the several counties and of Baltimore city are not included:
In an Appendix references are given under the several counties to the specific Public Local Laws in force in those counties relating to the more important of the subjects for which Public General Laws also exist. And references are also given to the Act of 1898, ch. 123, commonly called the New Charter of Baltimore City and the amendments and additions thereto passed at the sessions of 1898, 1900, 1902 and 1904, constituting Article 4 of the Public Local Law, and presenting the