A Message From Delegate Morhaim
Thank you for your input, comments, guidance, and even criticism during the legislative session. Your participation is what makes democracy work, and while we may not agree on every issue, I do my best to listen and learn from you and to represent your values and ideas.
This completes my 19th year in the Maryland General Assembly. Each session has its own distinct character. From the headlines, it would appear that the only focus was contentious bills, and there were a number of high-profile ones, including the repeal of the death penalty, transportation funding, and gun control.
However, there's always legislation that is important but can get overlooked. I'm pleased to report on 5 important bills of mine that passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support that will make a big difference to Marylanders over the short and long term.
HB103: This bill requires schools to include solar energy in their design process when undergoing major renovation. Given that there will be significant investment in school renovation over the next few years, especially in Baltimore City and County, the timing is critical. Schools are ideally suited for solar installation with their broad flat roofs and good sun exposure. Solar companies will finance the panels and then sell the power generated to the schools. Excess energy will be sold to the grid. Through this initiative schools will lower their energy costs, fewer emissions will be released into the environment, and students will have an opportunity to learn about clean energy sources.
HB331: Open meetings and public involvement are a basic building block of a democratic society. But Maryland's open meetings law has no enforcement power and has not been changed since its inception over 30 years ago. This bill is the first one that requires public bodies to adhere to rules or face penalties. The bill was endorsed by the League of Women Voters, MD-DC Press Association, Common Cause, the Open Meetings Compliance Board itself, and citizens from all over the state who support transparency in government operations.
HB591: Medication shortages in hospitals and medical practice have become common throughout the nation. Routine medicines are not always available, and this has caused problems in patient care. This bill closes one big loophole in Maryland that allows shadow pharmacies to hoard medicine and re-sell at inflated prices. I will continue to work with our medical community, legislators in other states, and our federal representatives to address this problem.
HB877: The government of Iran is threatening stability in the Middle East. This bill makes Maryland procurement law restrictions consistent with U.S. sanctions when dealing with Iran.Economic pressure is one tool to encourage other countries to change their policies, and it was clearly a factor in ending apartheid in South Africa. This bill passed unanimously.
HB1101: This landmark legislation creates a medical marijuana program in Maryland that will be overseen by a state commission and coordinated with academic medical centers. Through this program, patients who can benefit from marijuana to relieve serious health ailments will not have to risk becoming criminals to get needed medication. This legislation not only supports the doctor-patient relationship, it includes important study provisions - something no other state has done - so that we can learn from our experience. It will take some time for the program to become operational, but I am confident that our approach is responsible and safe.
I was also involved in many other bills on a broad range of topics.
Please let me know if you are interested in any of these, and I will be happy to provide information.
Locally, our new Owings Mills library opened adjacent to an expanded community college campus. Bond funds were obtained to support the Baltimore Humane Society, and we passed legislation to expand the state's role in supervising a proposed new gas pipeline.
None of this would happen without the support from my terrific staff: Michelle Bernstein, Sarah Sawyer, Dr. Keshia Pollack, Dr. Clarence Lam, Meghan McGinty, and Dr. Shannon Frattaroli. They worked hard to address issues and meet constituent concerns.
The advice and cooperation from my colleagues in the 11th District is essential. Senator Bobby Zirkin, Delegate Jon Cardin, Delegate Dana Stein and I work closely on many issues to represent you.
Let me close where this letter started. Thank you for your trust, support, and communication. It's only by working together issue-by-issue while respecting our differences that anything gets done.
Delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D.
Deputy Majority Leader, Maryland House of Delegates