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April 2014

Dear Constituents and Friends,

 

I deeply appreciate the opportunity and responsibility to serve as your representative in the Maryland General Assembly. My leadership responsibilities allow me to work on key issues in Maryland including health advocacy, open government and transparency, environmental matters, education, and other issues of importance to us all. Let me share a number of significant accomplishments that culminate a four-year term cycle.

 

As the only physician in the 188-member General Assembly, I work to ensure that all areas in public health and health care get equal attention.

 

·   House Bill (HB) 881 (passed), which I introduced, builds on the medical marijuana program established last year and makes it operational. My focus remains to see that citizens who can benefit from medical marijuana will get the care they need and deserve in a safe and responsible way. In the war on drugs, let’s at least get the sick and dying off of the battlefield.

·   I introduced HB 592 (passed), and it will assist patients suffering from mental illness and their families. I was proud to sponsor this legislation which was a priority for the mental health advocacy community.

·   Also this session, I sponsored HB 1088 (passed), which allows ophthalmologists access to proper medications in their offices to save patients’ vision by immediately treating uncommon and severe eye infections.

·   HB 301 and HB 303 (passed) will increase dentists’ ability to dispense antibiotics for pro bono patients and fluoride products that prevent cavities.

·    I played a key role in the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1108, which supports patients who need cancer and rheumatology care.

·    I was extremely disappointed in the health care exchange roll out. My office worked to assist many constituents who got stuck in the system, and I will continue to press to fix this while seeking accountability.

·   In 2013, I sponsored HB 591 (enacted) that addresses medication shortages, a critical issue that will need continued attention.

 

This year I was honored to be named the Legislator of the Year by the Maryland Nurses Association. This recognizes our cooperation in demonstrating how health care providers can and should work together to serve patients.

 

As House Deputy Majority Leader, I play a leadership role in the General Assembly and work with legislators from both parties on many issues to reach consensus. Here are some examples.

 

·  This session I sponsored HB 1352 which passed the House 131-0 and the Senate 46-0. It’s a major reform that improves the State’s ability to regulate charitable assets. We Marylanders donate hundreds of millions of dollars each year, so it’s essential that the tools are there to protect us from “scam” charities while supporting the legitimate ones that deserve our support.

·   Many constituents encouraged the legislature to take corrective measures to address the confusing 2012 Court of Appeals ruling that determined that pit bulls are inherently dangerous. This year I voted for HB 73 (passed) that establishes the rules of owner responsibility for a dog, regardless of the breed, if that dog causes injury or death.

·   The House of Delegates reinforced our commitment to democracy in the Middle East and enacted language in the State budget stating that an academic boycott of Israel is antithetical to academic freedom. This complements HB 877 (2013, enacted) that I sponsored that maintains strict sanctions against Iran.

 

As Chair of the Government Operations Subcommittee, I guide legislation that increases efficiencies in government and saves the State and taxpayers money.

 

·   In 2013, I sponsored HB 331 (enacted). It increases the enforcement power of open meetings rules so that citizens can fully participate in government process.

·   In 2013, I worked with my colleagues in the Health and Government Operations and Economic Matters Committees to pass HB 225 to increase employment opportunities for veterans.

·   In 2012, I sponsored two electronic recycling bills that are now implemented, HB 448 and HB 879. These continue require the State to purchase and recycle electronic products in an environmentally responsible manner.

·   In 2011, I introduced and my colleagues passed HB 456, which extended and improved the state’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) program to provide citizens equal access to business growth opportunities.

 

My term marked numerous advancements for education. As the father of three children who all graduated from Baltimore County Public Schools, I know how crucial it is to be an advocate for our students and teachers.

 

·   After many years of persistent activism, we passed HB 1453 which creates a hybrid school board by restructuring the Baltimore County Board of Education. These changes will bring the school board closer and more responsive to parents throughout our diverse communities.

·   Upon celebrating their 50th anniversary in May, Pikesville High School will undergo renovations during a two-year, $40 million construction project which will improve the building infrastructure including an air-conditioning system.

·   In 2013, HB 103 which I sponsored and passed requires schools to include solar energy in renovation designs.

 

Many improvements have been made to our District since I began this term. 

 

·   Funding was secured this session for Jewish Community Services’ Alternate Living Units to provide a residence for those living with developmental disabilities and allow them to age in place within their neighborhood.

·   The new Baltimore County Public Library in Owings Mills has welcomed many users, and the Pikesville Library and Senior Center completed major renovations. 

·   Stevenson University will assume ownership of most of the old Rosewood Hospital property, and environmental concerns will be addressed by the state. I advocated for the educational and public use of this land as a far better alternative to more development.

·   In 2012, we secured state funding for the Acorn Hill natural play area at Robert E. Lee Park.

 

I appreciate serving with Senator Bobby Zirkin, Delegate Jon Cardin, and Delegate Dana Stein, all of whom are effective legislators dedicated to representing District 11.

 

Finally, I would like to thank my full-time, part-time, and volunteer staff who did an exceptional job this session and term.  Michelle Bernstein, Cassie Boles, Shannon Frattaroli, Clarence Lam, and Keshia Pollack all worked hard to take action on constituent concerns and to further legislation important to our community.

 

The most important aspect of our democracy is public partnership and involvement, and I thank you for being part of the process by contacting me. I look forward to working together to enhance our neighborhoods and State.

 

Sincerely,

 

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Delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D.