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2009 Legislative Summary Letter

 

 

  Health and Government Operations Committee
________
 
Chair
Government Operations Subcommittee
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House Chair
Joint Committee on Health Care Delivery and Financing
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Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review
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Minority Health Disparities Subcommittee

 

 

 Dan K. Morhaim, M.D.
Deputy  Majority Leader
 

 
11th Legislative District
Baltimore County
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AnnapolisOffice
The Maryland House of Delegates
6 Bladen Street , room 362
Annapolis , Maryland 21401
410-841-3054
 1-800-492-7122 Ext.3054
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District Office
8 Park Center Court #100
Owings Mills , Maryland 2117-5609
410-581-8712
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Email dan.morhaim@house.state.md.u 

April 16, 2009
 


Dear Friends,
 
Let me begin by thanking everyone who contacted me expressing ideas and opinions on legislation. We may not agree on every issue, but your input shaped my perspective and votes. Your participation is most appreciated.
 
It's always a challenge to try to summarize the many actions of the Maryland General Assembly. I will mention some high-profile issues only briefly, but these already get extensive media coverage. I will report on items of importance - complex issues or ones for which there is broad consensus - that don't get the media attention they deserve. These are the legislative un-sung heroes.
 
Given the global and national economic crisis, the State's budget took center stage. As must happen each year, a balanced budget was passed. This was done without raising taxes, but extensive reductions were needed.  The budget is a complex document, and there were decisions made that I supported and others I was against. However, spending on key priorities such as education, public safety, and health were maintained. My focus has been on identifying efficiencies and streamlining government operations, the best way to save money without raising taxes or cutting programs.
 
I was fortunate to have 9 bills pass, a significant number for any session. All these bills passed overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, with bi-partisan support.  I believe in working hard, focusing on details, and building consensus. This takes time and energy, but it is worth the effort. 
(HB=House Bill; SB=Senate Bill and information can be found at 
http://mlis.state.md.us/).
HB 70 eliminates obsolete and redundant programs in the Department of Health. Many citizens speak of reducing the size and waste in government. This bill does it.
HB 91 promotes proper restoration of historic state buildings.
HB 124 promotes competition for state contracts, especially for new and minority businesses.
HB 154 expands the role of the Green Building Council. Buildings use 50% of the energy and 50% of the water in the U.S., so smart conservation approaches are particularly effective.
HB 456 facilitates use of medicines for uncommon cancers.
HB 457 authorizes use of web sites for certain printed government documents, reducing needless paperwork.
HB 533 promotes cooperative buying among state agencies, counties, and schools. Collectively, these entities spend billions of dollars, so even a 1% savings via bulk purchasing saves millions. Additionally, Maryland non-profit  organizations have been hit hard, both with decreased donations and increased demand for services. This bill lets them 'piggyback' on to government purchases and save money.
HB 610 expands the ways health insurance companies can provide incentives for wellness and injury prevention. This lowers costs by making people healthier.
HB 674 takes a big step to improve the small group insurance market, something that has not been done since 1993. With 2-50 employees, these groups are struggling with higher premiums, and the competition to sell insurance has shrunk. These reforms reduce rates, help more people get health insurance, and lower costs to employees.
 
There are other important enacted bills to know about.
 
Health: As the only physician in the 141-member House of Delegates, I am increasingly concerned about our health care system. I look forward to comprehensive reforms, but steps were taken that support patients and providers. I chair the legislature's Biotechnology Caucus, an area where Maryland is uniquely positioned to grow economically and help improve health and the environment. The Biotech Caucus was instrumental in keeping funding for research and the biotech tax credit which supports new companies taking products to market, keeping jobs in Maryland, and growing our economic base. 
HB 255/SB 380 helps providers get paid by HMO's.
HB 405 updates breast cancer screening rules.
HB 526/SB 646 expedites provider credentialing by insurance companies. HB 739/SB 952 increases funding for addiction treatment programs; thus reducing healthcare costs and crime because addictions are a major driver of both. HB 1534/SB 1070 authorizes the Maryland Insurance Commissioner to review the impact of possible reductions of CareFirst assets by the District of Columbia.
HB 422, HB 710/SB 802, HB 975/SB 591, HB 1451, HB 1457 help our military veterans with health and financial support.
HB 706 encourages use of electronic health records by providing financial rewards to those who adopt these systems.
 
Environment: HB 595, HB 1290/SB 473, SB 621, HB 1363, HB 533/SB 609 are important environmental bills. These reduce solid waste, promote use of environmentally safe products, expand recycling, and support alternative energy. Business: HB 124/SB 187, HB 389/SB 611, HB 471/SB 489, HB 641/SB 211 help new, small, minority and woman owned businesses. As Chair of the Government Operations Subcommittee, I was actively involved in the passage of these bills. It's important to expand business opportunities to all members of our community. Education:  HB 587, HB 588, HB 306/SB 257 all improve education. 

Other key issues were: death penalty; driver's license ID's; speed cameras; keeping the Preakness in Maryland. Each of these was settled with compromise legislation that left proponents and opponents equally unhappy, sometimes a sign that balance was achieved.
 
I am honored to serve the 11th District of northwest Baltimore County with my teammates Bobby Zirkin, Jon Cardin, and Dana Stein. We share a common vision to improve our community. Please contact each of us for legislative scholarship information. Now, let me highlight some of the 11th District team’s
accomplishments.

The 11th District Team secured funding for important local projects: a generator for the Owings Mills Jewish Community Center so it can be designated as an emergency response center; the Hopewell Community, which provides free cancer support services; and Sinai Hospital's new pediatric center.

State Senator Bobby Zirkin worked hard on the Budget and Tax Committee to help fashion a balanced budget that kept our priorities funded, and he continues to lead on juvenile justice and education issues.
 
Delegate Jon Cardin, on the Ways and Means Committee, navigated HB 1179 "early voting" through the legislature. Last November, nearly 75% of voters approved the Constitutional Amendment to allow early voting.  Marylanders can now more readily participate in our democracy.
 
Delegate Dana Stein serves on the Environmental Matters Committee, and his HB 547 eliminates the deceptive practice, used in some auto ads, of advertising a price that incorporates an amount for customer cash or trade-in or rebates that buyers may not qualify for.

The Rosewood Center Hospital will be closing this summer. Our community has made it clear that it wants the property for public, institutional, recreational, and open space with traffic directed away from Garrison Forest Road. We look forward to Stevenson University, the Irvine Nature Center, the Cardin School, local officials, and neighborhood groups working together to find the best, long-term use for this land. The 11th District Team has been actively involved in coordinating this effort. Last, I would like to thank my terrific staff: Mary Lou Cole, Penny McDougal, Monique Rucker, Keshia Pollack, Shannon Frattaroli, Tyler Cymet, and David Goldsmith. They work long hours for little pay, but their talent and commitment have no bounds. Please stay in touch, and I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sincerely,

Delegate Dan Morhaim