This is my eleventh year representing you in the House of Delegates, and this year's legislative session proved to be simultaneously challenging, frustrating, and rewarding. As a member of the House Health and Government Operations (HGO) Committee and as Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, I initiated bills aimed at expanding health insurance coverage, addressing tort reform and medical malpractice, improving public health, protecting the environment, and increasing efficiency and accountability in government spending.
While many in the media focused on slots and other "controversial" issues, many important legislative initiatives did not get the attention they deserve. For further details on these other initiatives, please visit my web sitewww.drdanmorhaim.com and the Maryland General Assembly site.
Here is a summary of the bills for which I was the lead sponsor. Those marked with an asterisk* passed the House and Senate and are ready for the Governor's signature.
*HB 109: Requires independent state agencies to have procurement policies, saving state money and helping to grow local businesses.
HB 172: Many of you are worried about overdevelopment, and this bill was in direct response to your concerns. The bill catalyzed an agreement between Valleys Planning Council and state and county government that protects Meadowood Park (Falls and Greenspring Valley Roads) as recreation and open space for generations to come.
*HB 196 (Senate cross filed bill SB 92 passed): Promotes high-performance "green" building design.
*HB 262: Protects state expenditures by not allowing companies convicted of federal violations to do business with the State until violations are corrected.
*HB 303: Helps smokers by providing insurance for smoking cessation medications.
*HB 417: Helps pharmacies get paid electronically, thus keeping costs down for consumers.
HB 433: Creates Task Force to study funds for birth injuries as alternative to lawsuits (added to House comprehensive med-mal reform bill).
*HB 434: Requires reporting of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human version of "mad cow disease," which is often misdiagnosed and underreported.
*HB 498: Supports E-Maryland Marketplace, simplifies State contracting information, thus saves money for State and businesses.
HB 499: Malpractice Structured Settlements (added to House comprehensive med-mal reform bill).
*HB 575: Electronics Recycling: starts program statewide to enable Marylanders to safely dispose of unwanted computers. This bill is now the model bill for states.
*HB 827(Senate cross filed bill SB 718 passed): Protects all health care workers (nurses, paramedics, doctors) in the event of accidental exposure to infectious disease.
HB 890: Affords protection for Physician Assistants in med-mal cases (added to House comprehensive med-mal reform bill).
In addition to the bills I introduced, I also co-sponsored many bills covering an array of topics. There are two areas that I feel deserve special attention because of their importance. I remain committed to resolving the crisis in medical malpractice insurance. If this situation is not dealt with, access to quality care will be seriously eroded. Litigation is a poor way to address bad patient outcomes. There are better ways, ones that not only help patients, but ones that enhance patient safety and keep physicians and other providers in practice. I fully supported the bills offered by Med-Chi, the Maryland Hospital Association, and the health care community. The House of Delegates passed excellent tort reform legislation during this session, as we did during December 2004 special session. It is unfortunate that our colleagues in the Senate did not take similar action. I was also a co-sponsor of a number of bills regarding cost, quality, and availability of pharmaceuticals and health care. Of particular interest is *HB 627 that significantly expands healthcare for working Marylanders. These issues did not get media coverage, yet they affect each of us and involve billions of dollars.
I understand the importance of bi-partisanship, and I made it a point to work with the administration and my fellow legislators from both political parties. I continue to enjoy my close working relationship with my District 11 colleagues Senator Hollinger and Delegates Cardin and Zirkin. We help each other with advice and guidance, and we coordinate our efforts to meet the needs in our district.
There are also some positive changes in District 11 to tell you about. Woodholme Elementary School is scheduled to open this fall, and planning has begun on the new library/community college complex at the Owings Mills Metro Center. Plans for an Owings Mills Middle school are in the works. Additionally, I have benefited greatly from meeting with my "Teen Leaders of Tomorrow Council," a group of area high school students who meet with me periodically to share their perspectives. This group of bright, concerned, and articulate high school students has helped me define my positions on various issues. I feel confident that the future of the region is in good hands. Also, I was delighted to coordinate the "Read Across the District" summer reading program for elementary and middle school students. The enthusiastic response shows that families in District 11 know that learning is a year round process.
In my eleven years as your Delegate, I have learned a great deal about getting things done, and I am proud of my record of accomplishment. I am as committed to representing you now as ever. I appreciate your continued support and, as always, value your opinion and input on issues. I look forward to hearing from you.
Dan K. Morhaim, M.D.
Delegate, District 11