Updated: Md. Bill for Travel Websites Could be Headed for Veto O - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Md. Bill for Travel Websites Could be Headed for Veto Override

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Maryland's Senate president said Monday he's confident Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a bill designed to ensure that third-party travel websites pay all of the state's sales tax is headed toward an override vote.
    
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said in an interview with The Associated Press that there are enough Senate votes to override the Republican governor's veto when the legislative session begins next month. Miller noted opposition to the governor's decision from Marriott Chairman Bill Marriott and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.
    
Marriott is based in Bethesda.
    
"Mr. Marriott and the CEO of Marriott are up in arms right now, and so we intend to work with them and work with (Maryland Secretary of Commerce) Mike Gill in terms of assuring Marriott that we are their supporters, that we're going to override the governor's veto, that we want to do all within our power to make certain they stay within our borders," Miller, D-Calvert, said, noting competition with neighboring Virginia over the home for Marriott headquarters.
    
Supporters argued that the bill simply closes a loophole. Opponents contended it amounts to a new tax on travel websites.
    
Kathleen Snyder, president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, wrote Miller this month that online travel companies only remit a portion of the state's 6-percent sales tax actually collected from the consumer, based on the lower, discounted price that they paid the hotel for the room. She wrote that the measure simply clarifies that the state's tax code should apply in the same way to online travel companies as it does to all other retailers in the state.
    
"Enough is enough," Snyder wrote. "The General Assembly should override Governor Hogan's veto ... and end the unfair multimillion dollar subsidies being paid annually by Maryland tax payers to those out-of-state (online travel companies.)"
    
When Hogan announced the veto in May, he wrote that the current law about whether accommodations intermediaries are required to collect and remit sales taxes on the amount paid by the consumer is being litigated by the state's comptroller's office. The case is still in litigation.
    
"The General Assembly should respect the long-standing practice of not passing legislation that would directly affect matters being litigated in a pending court case," Hogan wrote.
    
The measure passed the Senate 32-15, three votes more than the 29 needed for the override. The bill passed the House of Delegates 84-56, one shy of 85 needed to override the governor's veto in the House, where the vote was largely along party lines. A Democratic lawmaker was absent for that vote.
    
"We're taking a look," House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said when asked Monday about potential override votes when the Legislature convenes on Jan. 13.

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