May 21, 2003

The Honorable Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
President of the Senate
State House
Annapolis MD 21401

Dear Mr. President:

In accordance with Article II, Section 17 of the Maryland Constitution, today I have vetoed Senate Bill 153 - Task Force to Study Health Regulations for Bed and Breakfast Operators.

This bill creates a Task Force to Study Health Regulations for Bed and Breakfast Operators. This task force is composed of 14 members, including State legislators, agency officials, economic development representatives, and interested parties from the bed and breakfast industry, among others. Its mission includes an examination of health regulations governing bed and breakfast operators, including requirements for the use of certain cooking instruments and equipment. The task force also is charged with comparing Maryland health regulations with health regulations in other states governing bed and breakfast operators. Additionally, the bill requires the task force to report its findings and recommendations regarding regulations on the need for a commercial or stainless steel kitchen to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 31, 2003, at which time the bill terminates.

I understand the need for appropriate health and safety measures to be in place within Maryland's bed and breakfast operations to protect Maryland citizens and visitors to our State. To meet this goal, bed and breakfasts operators rely upon the assistance, guidance, and expertise of appropriate State agencies. At the same time, certain State standards applicable to other accommodations and facilities may not be appropriate for small bed and breakfast operations. These are legitimate issues requiring continued dialogue, analysis, and potential action.

I do not believe, however, that a State task force consisting of the representatives included within Senate Bill 153 is necessary to be responsive to the concerns of the bed and breakfast industry or for the welfare of consumers. The creation, appointment, and conduct of task forces is a time-consuming process that drains time and resources from State agencies already tasked with current responsibilities. Task forces should be employed more sparingly than in current practice. Many problems for which task forces are recommended can be resolved through the course of normal dialogue among interested stakeholders and State representatives.

I urge all interested parties supportive of Senate Bill 153 wishing to address the important concerns regarding the health regulations of bed and breakfast operators to do so through continued dialogue and cooperation with State officials as a course of normal business. Accordingly, I believe the creation of this task force is unnecessary.

For the above stated reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill 153.

Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.