The Honorable Casper R. Taylor, Jr.
Speaker of the House
State House
Annapolis MD 21401-1991

Dear Mr. Speaker:

In accordance with Article II, Section 17 of the Maryland Constitution, I have today vetoed House Bill 963 - Motor Vehicle Administration - Driver Instruction over the Internet.

House Bill 963 prohibits the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) from offering or permitting any driver instruction program over the Internet unless specifically authorized by an act of the General Assembly. The legislation has a 2-year sunset.

In recent years, the MVA has worked closely with the General Assembly and the driver education community to implement improvements to strengthen the quality of Maryland's driver education program. In the 2001 Session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 59 which takes additional steps to improve driver education, focusing on the flexibility of the delivery system and certification and licensing of instructors. All parties are working toward a common goal: to ensure that students receive the quality training necessary to be safe, competent drivers and that such training be readily available. While I have great respect for the General Assembly's leadership on issues relating to driver education and licensing, I do not believe that House Bill 963 furthers this goal.

My objections to the legislation are two-fold: First, I believe the decision whether or not to permit driver instruction over the Internet belongs with the MVA. As part of its statutory duties, the Administration currently authorizes driver education programs that must contain a minimum level of classroom and highway driving instruction. While the MVA does not authorize any providers that use the Internet for courses required to obtain a driver's license, it has approved one organization to provide improvement courses for driver rehabilitation over the Internet. This pilot has been very successful and six other organizations have submitted proposals to participate. Under the 2-year moratorium proposed in House Bill 963, this program could not continue.

My second concern with House Bill 963 is that it directly conflicts with the Electronic Government Initiative proposed by the Administration and passed by the General Assembly during the 2000 Session (House Bill 274). That legislation requires all units of the executive branch to have 50% of their public information and services available over the Internet by 2002 and increases the goal to 80% by 2004. The MVA has made tremendous strides in recent years delivering on-line registration and licensing services to the public in a more convenient and accessible manner. House Bill 963 would take the State in the opposite direction by prohibiting any course work, including remedial driver training over the Internet. I believe the legislation sends the wrong message in light of Maryland's role as a national leader in providing electronic services to its citizens.

With regard to the policy issues raised by the proponents of House Bill 963, I am confident that the MVA will carefully evaluate the benefits and impact of driver education instruction over the Internet prior to authorizing such programs. I am equally confident that the MVA will work closely with the Legislature, driving schools and other interested parties before making any decisions. This process has worked well in the past and I believe it should continue.

For these reasons, I have vetoed House Bill 963.

Parris N. Glendening