April 12, 1999
Thank you for contacting me during the 1999 Legislative Session. Your calls and letters are important and help to educate me on different perspectives on various issues. The effectiveness of the democratic process is dependent on citizen input, and I am grateful that you have taken the time to share your views and concerns with me.
Although newspaper headlines may focus on the more controversial items, beyond the rhetoric there were many important issues acted upon.
I was the lead sponsor of a number of successful pieces of legislation, including:
HB 590 - Diesel Vehicle Emissions Control Program - This legislation will really help to clean up our air by requiring polluting large trucks and buses to be fixed. The bill was carefully drafted and won support from environmental groups, the Chamber of Commerce, health groups, as well as those who would be regulated in the truck and bus industries. This bill applies not only to trucks and buses licensed in Maryland but also to trucks that drive through the state.
HB 287 - Health Care Workers' Safety Act - This bill helps protect health care workers from accidental needle stick injury and diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS that these injuries can cause. Newly engineered safety needles greatly reduce the incidence of injury. This bill promotes their use.
HB 62 - Task Force to Study Increasing the Availability of Substance Abuse Programs - This bill continues last year's efforts to reduce crime by increasing drug addiction services.
HB 225 - Practice of Medicine, Licensing Requirements - This legislation tightens the licensing requirements for physicians, thus keeping unqualified doctors from practicing in Maryland.
HB 45 - American Visionary Arts Museum - This one of a kind museum will receive funding to continue its mission of bringing outstanding new art to the area. This museum has played an important part in both the cultural and economic development of the Baltimore region.
The 11th District schools will benefit from numerous renovation and construction programs. The Hannah More School in Reisterstown will receive aid from the State for further improvements, including a community recreation center.
Other important session highlights include:
Ethics - Citizens must feel that their government is acting in their interest, so I continue to support efforts to prevent undue influence on or personal gain by legislators. I voted for HB 1/ SB 1 Ethics Law/Reform of Legislative Ethics Process and supported other ethics bills that will help to ensure the integrity of the legislative process. I continue to return Legislative Scholarship funds (a system much criticized by ethics watchdog groups) to the state for equitable and unbiased distribution to students in the 11th district.
Electricity Deregulation - While HB 703/SB 300 passed, many people still have concerns over the move in this direction. Time will tell if and how this legislation will impact residential customers, businesses, and the environment. Please keep me informed on how this impacts you, both at home and at work. It is important that consumers, utility employees, and stockholders all benefit from this restructuring.
Education - Continued efforts were made to put quality in the classroom, increase the number of teachers, and build schools. Specifically, HB 187 will benefit elementary school students, and HB 189 will help train more quality teachers.
Social Issues - There were several very controversial and emotional issues that came up this year. These included gay rights, hate crimes, abortion, and assisted suicide. Please know that for each of these challenging issues I listened carefully to all sides, consulted with ethical and religious leaders in the community, and searched my own conscience in trying to reach the right decision.
Health Care - Again, numerous bills were filed in this area. With my experience in the health care field, I worked with others to navigate this complex and difficult arena. We continue to work toward a more equitable and responsive system for both patient and provider. I co-sponsored legislation that will benefit nurses by making Maryland part of the Nurse Multistate Licensure Compact; to require universal newborn hearing screening; and to provide oncology drugs to cancer patients. A Patient's Bill of Rights passed, as did a bill that supports seniors at home instead of in nursing homes.
Unfortunately, HB 163, which would have banned the sale of tobacco through vending machines, passed the House of Delegates but did not pass the Senate.
During the interim, I plan to return to my job as an emergency medicine physician and to spend time with my wife and three daughters. With one daughter in college and another graduating from high school this spring, I treasure this time we spend together.
I also will be working on legislation that I would like to introduce for next session and look to you for your ideas and suggestions. My district phone number is 410-581-8712 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent you and look forward to your continued input.