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150 Years of the Bezirkshauptmannschaften - Miniature Sheet

Miniature Sheet
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  • 18.05.2018
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About 150 Years of the Bezirkshauptmannschaften

150 years ago the district commissions were introduced in their current form as the administrative authorities for a particular district through an imperial statute – and Austrian Post is celebrating this anniversary with a commemorative stamp.

Act No. 44 of 19th May 1868 states in Section 11: The sovereign political district authorities shall be designated “Bezirkshauptmannschaften” (district commissions). At the head of each such authority shall be a Bezirkshauptmann (district governor). The establishment of the district commissions based on the December Constitution of 1867 led to the definitive separation of the judiciary and the legislature.

A district commission, usually abbreviated to “BH”, is the lowest level of administrative authority of the state administration in those districts which do not fall within the area covered by a city with its own statute. The local administrative authorities of a statutory city are called the Magistrat (city administration).

The organisation of the district commission is regulated by the pertinent laws of each province. Responsibility for leading the district commission rests with the district governor. District governors must be legally qualified persons and are nominated by the regional government. In Austria there are 79 political districts with a district commission and 15 statutory cities with a city administration, as well as the “Politische Expositur” of the district commission for Liezen in Gröbming. Some Styrian districts were subject to restructuring after 2012, and in 2017 the Viennese political district Wien- Umgebung was dissolved.

The duties of the district commissions

The district commissions undertake tasks in connection with indirect federal administration and provincial administration. Their duties included tasks relating to commercial, water and traffic laws; supervision of the municipality; health, veterinary and forestry administration; security and welfare. The BH is also responsible for issuing certain documents such as passports.

The 150th anniversary of the district commissions will fall in May and will be celebrated with a touring exhibition in the Upper Austrian district commissions and with a ceremony at the University of Graz, among other things.