Howard County Council
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What are the Powers of the Council?
The County Council acts as the County’s legislative branch of government.
It is responsible for making the laws that govern the County.
Council members also act as the Zoning Board. In that capacity, they guide the County’s growth with the General Development Plan.
Acting as the Board of License Commissioners, Council Members approve and revoke local licenses to sell alcoholic beverages.
Just type your address into the “Who Represents Me?” feature accessed from the Council’s website. Your Council district and the member who represents you will be identified.
Council members are prohibited from directing the activity of staff in the Executive branch of government; however, they frequently can assist you with problems you may be having by providing access to the appropriate agency, helping to get information you may need related to services of the government, or by arranging for staff to talk with you about your problem. Constituent services, helping people to solve problems, is an important informal function of the Council members.
- Legislative Sessions are generally held at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month (except August; if Monday is a holiday, the meeting falls on the next non-holiday).
- Public Hearings are usually held at 7:00 p.m. on the third Monday of the month.
- If there is a work session, it usually is held on the fourth Monday.
- The Council also holds a monthly administrative meeting. The time for these meetings varies, but usually they are held on the second Monday of the month.
- The Council meets quarterly with the Board of Education on a schedule developed cooperatively with the Board.
In addition to these standing meetings, the Council frequently schedules special meetings for various purposes. These will be posted on the calendar on the website.
All meetings are usually held in the Banneker Room, first floor of the George Howard Building at 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. For more information, you may sign up through our Constant Contact signup form.
Council meetings generally are open to the public, except for limited situations in which State law allows the Council to meet in a closed meeting. The public may testify at legislative hearings, but generally, the public does not have an opportunity to speak at other meetings of the Council.
You may sign in electronically to indicate your interest in testifying at a hearing. The sign-in tool is accessible from the home page of the Council’s website. You are asked to submit testimony electronically via e-mail by clicking the button below, or to bring 10 copies of written testimony to the hearing. You may speak for up to 3 minutes. If an organization has a person speaking on behalf of the group, that representative may speak for 5 minutes. You should begin your testimony by stating your name and city of residence for the record. Then, simply say what you wish to say about the bill or resolution within your allocated time. Please do not direct questions to the Council at the hearing; this is a time for the Council to learn from you.
The County Council is located on the first floor of the George Howard Building at 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The office is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are parking lots immediately in front of the building with both metered and free parking spaces.
The Banneker Room of the George Howard Building, where legislative sessions are held, is ADA compliant. Amplification assistance is available on request, and televised meetings have closed captioning. If you anticipate needing special accommodations, please contact the Council Office at (410) 313-2001 sufficiently in advance that arrangements may be made. You can also email us by clicking the button below.
Any Council member may introduce legislation. The County Executive may request that the Council introduce legislation on his or her behalf. Typically, the Chairperson of the Council introduces legislation on behalf of the County Executive. Council members may introduce legislation at the request of other entities or individuals, such as County departments or citizens in the County.
Most board and commission members are appointed by the County Executive and approved by the County Council. Contact the office of the County Executive to indicate your interest in appointment. The County Council appoints members to the Compensation Review Commission, the Liquor Hearing Board, and the Board of Appeals. The Council also appoints members to task forces established by resolution from time to time to look at specific issues. To express interest in serving on a board or task force, contact the Council member who represents you.
A comprehensive schedule of Council meetings is posted on the calendar on the Council’s website, and information about legislative sessions and hearings, with the agendas, may be accessed from the legislative information tool. Hearing dates and agendas also are advertised in the Sunpapers and the Howard County Times, and are posted on the bulletin board outside of the Council’s offices.
The Council’s legislative sessions and hearings are recorded both in audio format and for television. They are broadcast live and rebroadcast on the GTV stations. You may also watch streaming video or audio online on the Watch Us page. The Council's work sessions and monthly meetings are only streamed. Closed captioning is available for all council meeting.
The Council presents honorary resolutions to highly deserving individuals, organizations, or events. Requests with information about the prospective honoree’s accomplishment generally are made through a Council member or the Council Administrator. Resolutions usually are presented at special events or just before a Council legislative session.