The headline from the article says it all: "Vending Machine Bill Passes." Important legislation often requires years of perseverance in building consensus before it becomes law. The successful tobacco vending machine bill, which I had worked on for many years, will help to ensure that children will not have easy access to cigarettes.
As I conclude my sixth year serving the residents of the 11th district, I would like to tell you about other legislation that I worked on and share my perspective on the recently concluded session. But first I want to thank all of you who took the time to visit, write, phone, or email me. I read all of your correspondence and appreciate your sharing your views with me. I am convinced that I can best serve the 11th district when I hear from you.
Some Important New Initiatives
The following bills I introduced didn’t pass this year, but provided a starting point for the discussion of several critical issues.
* A bill addressing the issues of genetically engineered food and crops
* A bill to provide a new method of economic analysis for state agencies that takes into account the condition of both the economy and the quality of life for Marylanders
* A bill to require the state to purchase health care only from not-for-profit HMOs. Studies have shown that not-for-profit HMOs devote more resources to health care delivery than do for-profit HMOs, thus making each health care dollar count for more.
While the discussion of public funds for private schools was very emotional and intense, it brought to my attention an area that deserves further study. I have attached a letter to the editor that describes my vision of a buying consortium which would benefit all Maryland schools without spending additional public dollars.
I also introduced a bill that would look at methods to improve the energy efficiency in school construction and operations. As we build and renovate schools, we must look into ways to reduce the county’s $11 million school utility bill and free up funds for other important uses.
Quality of care; access to physicians, nurses and other providers; rising costs; and the growing numbers of under/uninsured continue to be my greatest concerns. We moved forward on several fronts this session.
* Money from the Cigarette Restitution Fund will go directly toward dealing with the health problems caused by tobacco.
* Legislation that I introduced was passed to protect nurses and allied health workers from needle stick injuries.
* My bills regarding an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Advisory Council and a Patient Care Advisory Committee passed and will improve our ability to give the highest quality care to our children.
* I represented the General Assembly on the Governor’s Task Force to Conquer Cancer.
Additionally, as a physician I was able to serve as a point of reference for many of my colleagues who introduced a variety of healthcare legislation.
Several important issues were addressed. Though few were fully resolved, I will continue to work on appropriate and sustainable solutions.
* Open Bay Dumping and improved septic system legislation will be sent to summer study to give more time and attention to these issues which are critical to the quality of our waters.
* A bill to help small farmers stay on the land through loans supporting the adoption of sustainable farming practices.
* A bill to create a moratorium on large hog factory farms to take time to investigate their impact on the environment and to avoid the disastrous experiences of North Carolina.
I am committed to pursuing solutions that protect and enhance the quality of our air, water, and soil. To build healthy communities, we need a healthy environment.
I continue to focus on improving addiction treatment services as a key tool for reducing crime, along with police efforts and tough sentencing. The Drug Treatment Task Force, which Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend chairs and I co-chair, presented its interim report to the Legislature. We will concentrate our efforts this next year on designing a treatment system that is well run, responsive, effective, and efficient. Please refer to the Op-Ed piece to learn more. A series of "Town Meetings" are planned statewide. For more information on these, call 410-767-0909.
Overall, I would rate this as a very successful session for the 11th District.
* The County will be receiving additional funds for education.
* A Police Athletic League/Rec Center is planned to serve the Reisterstown area.
* Street improvements are being made throughout the district, and various recreational facilities are on schedule.
I worked closely with my colleagues, Delegates Mike Finifter and Bob Zirkin, and Senator Paula Hollinger to fully represent the District.
I appreciate that so many of you shared your concerns with me and hope you will continue to do so. Even though the 2000 session has just ended, I am already beginning to work on legislation for next year. I would be happy to speak to your group or organization any of the above issues or any issue of concern to your community. The Maryland General Assembly web site address is: mlis.state.md.us. My personal web site is www.drdanmorhaim.com. As I return to my position as an emergency medicine physician and to spending time with my family, I look forward to hearing from you.