May 25, 2004

The Honorable Michael E. Busch
Speaker of the House of Delegates
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401-1991

Dear Mr. Speaker:

In accordance with Article II, Section 17 of the Maryland Constitution, today I have vetoed House Bill 1062 - St. Mary's County - Deputy Sheriffs - Command-Level Appointees.

House Bill 1062 authorizes the St. Mary's County Sheriff to appoint command-level staff subject to the approval of the St. Mary's County Commissioners. The bill requires the county commissioners and the sheriff to set the number, rank, and salaries of command-level positions and to approve their creation, continued existence, funding, or reestablishment. When the appointment to the command-level position ends by an action of the sheriff, the failure of the county to fund the position, or by the rescission of the approval for that position, the individual serving in the command-level position must return to the rank held before the appointment or to the higher rank for which the individual would have qualified while serving as a command-level appointee.

The St. Mary's County Delegation sponsored House Bill 1062 at the request of the Board of County Commissioners. As introduced, it allowed the County Commissioners to set the number, rank, and salaries of the command level positions, and to make additional decisions relating to these positions. An amendment was added in the House Environmental Matters Committee that allowed the County Commissioners "and the Sheriff" to make these determinations.

All five County Commissioners of St. Mary's County have requested that this bill be vetoed. They object vehemently to the amendment that gives the sheriff co-decision making authority in these matters. In opposition, they have stated that House Bill 1062 interferes with their legislative authority and creates confusion and ambiguity in local decision-making. Moreover, it gives the Sheriff "the power to affect the budget".

I agree with the concerns raised by the County Commissioners of St. Mary's County as they are ultimately responsible for the county's budget. There should be no confusion on this matter. This bill infringes on their legislative prerogative.

For the above stated reasons, I have vetoed House Bill 1062.

Very truly yours,
Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.