May 20, 2005

The Honorable Michael E. Busch
Speaker of the House
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Mr. Speaker:

In accordance with Article II, Section 17 of the Maryland Constitution, today I have vetoed House Bill 498 - Procurement - eMaryland Marketplace.

House Bill 498 provides for a new cost structure to fund the Internet-based procurement system managed by the department of General Services known as eMaryland Marketplace. The bill provides that: (1) the Department of Budget and Management may not charge a unit of State government a fee to use eMaryland Marketplace; (2) The Department of Budget and Management may assess a fee to local jurisdictions that use eMaryland Marketplace to advertise procurement contracts; and (3) a unit of State government may not charge a fee to access eMaryland Marketplace.

In the 2004 Legislative Session, House Bill 702 was passed which required the establishment of a "winner pays fee" structure for the fiscal support of eMaryland Marketplace, which would replace the current subscription system. House Bill 702 had delayed effective dates of July 1, 2005 for Section 2 and July 1, 2005 for section 3. House Bill 498 proposed to amend last year's law so that State agencies, and possibly local governments, would pay for the operation of eMaryland Marketplace, thus eliminating the cumbersome fee collection efforts that the Department of General Services would have to undertake as established in last year's law before the effective date of the relevant provisions of House Bill 702. In order to fund the fee structure established under House Bill 498, The Maryland Department of Budget and Management set aside $1.4 million in its operating budget to pay for the first year under the new program. Unfortunately, the funding was removed by the General Assembly. House Bill 498, therefore, passed without the inclusion of the necessary resources to make it work.

Following the conclusion of the 2005 Session, the Maryland Departments of Budget and Management and General Services met to discuss the development and implementation of an acceptable fee structure that can be implemented by July 1, 2005, the date established in House Bill 498. I am confident that this fee structure will serve eMaryland Marketplace well into the future, and, in fact, makes House Bill 498 unnecessary.

For the above reasons, I have vetoed House Bill 498.

Very truly yours,
Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.