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Harris Jones & Malone: Spotlight on Delegate Eric Bromwell

Delegate Eric Bromwell, Vice-Chair of the House Health and Government Operations Committee (Photo: mgaleg.maryland.gov)

Recently, a study titled The Fatherly Imagination Report surveyed 500 children between the ages of 1 and 10. The study, which was discussed by Forbes magazine, sought to determine what professions children most likely wanted to pursue upon reaching adult age. Although the children were very young, the study showed that pro athlete and firefighter were the two most popular professions among young boys. While many children grew up wanting to be famous entertainers or athletes, Delegate Eric Bromwell’s (D-8 Baltimore County) dream was always to serve as a member of the Maryland General Assembly. Having watched his father serve in office for over 20 years, Delegate Bromwell says, “I grew up in the Maryland Senate. I loved Annapolis and knew it was what I wanted to do.” From childhood to early adulthood, Delegate Bromwell has always been around the Maryland General Assembly in some capacity. While speaking with Delegate Bromwell, I learned the steps he took to live out his dream of joining the Maryland General Assembly and how he plans to advocate for Maryland’s citizens during the 437th legislative session.

Delegate Eric Bromwell was born and raised in Perry Hall, Maryland as the son of a long serving state Senator, Thomas L. Bromwell. Speaking of his childhood, Delegate Bromwell recalled the excitement he had each time he would come to Annapolis to watch his father in action. “When I was growing up, it was really what I knew and I just considered it my Dad’s job. I have an older brother and he was never really interested in politics or any of that stuff, but I took to it right away. Any chance I got I was down in Annapolis. I probably never missed an opening day of session.” For Delegate Bromwell, it seemed that he was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the legislature he grew up admiring.

Although Delegate Bromwell always considered the possibility that he would one day serve as a member of the Maryland General Assembly, a traumatic life experience is what ultimately motivated him to run for office in 2002. In his early 20’s, Delegate Bromwell watched as his grandfather struggled with both prostate and lung cancer. At one point, he recalls his grandfather running out of money and being forced to rely on his family support system to get the care he desperately needed. Through this experience, Delegate Bromwell learned that individuals similar to his grandfather often struggled with maintaining their health care because they lacked an adequate support system. Feeling that changes in the health care system needed to be made to address the difficulties he witnessed, Delegate Bromwell decided he wanted to run for office. At just 24 years of age, he ran for the Maryland House of Delegates with the intention of focusing on issues related to quality and affordable health care and prescription drugs for seniors. In 2003, at 25 years old, Delegate Bromwell was elected to represent Baltimore County and the citizens of District 8 in the General Assembly. Given that Delegate Bromwell was elected one year after his father’s retirement, since 1978 a member of the Bromwell family has held elected office within the General Assembly. Due to his enthusiasm and hard work throughout the past decade, Delegate Bromwell now serves as the Vice Chairman of the Health and Government Operations Committee.

Growing up around the General Assembly, Delegate Bromwell had a slight advantage in comparison to other freshman Delegates when it came to building relationships in Annapolis. Despite his familiarity with his fellow legislators, Delegate Bromwell faced a daunting learning curve when being placed on the Health and Government Operations Committee. “Being interested is one thing but being elected and put on health committee was another. It was very complicated material. You have to learn the way the system works and the subject matter. Really, you’re at disadvantage because as a freshman, you’re the most ignorant.” Despite serving on the Committee and in the legislature for nearly a decade and a half, Delegate Bromwell insists, “I learn every day. Things happen down there every day that are new and it’s pretty interesting.”

In spite of the learning curve Delegate Bromwell faced, he kept true to his promise to focus on health related issues for Maryland’s senior population. In one of his first Committee meetings as a freshman Delegate, he recalls hearing testimony on a senior citizen prescription drug program that placed limitations on how many seniors could receive short term care. After hearing testimony that the program could serve another five to six thousand seniors if the limitations were raised, Delegate Bromwell decided to take swift action. After talking with his Committee Chair, Delegate Bromwell was able to introduce an emergency bill which extended the program to serve a greater portion of the senior population. The legislation, which was eventually signed into law, is one of Delegate Bromwell’s proudest accomplishments in the legislature. Speaking of the legislation, he said, “The bill is still on my refrigerator. It’s probably the most important bill I’ve ever had because it validated what I wanted to do and what I said I would do.”

Delegate Bromwell’s legislation to extend the short term prescription drug program to a greater senior population was particularly meaningful as it came during the time employees of Bethlehem Steel lost their health care benefits. Due to Delegate Bromwell’s legislation, many of the people affected by Bethlehem Steel’s closure were automatically enrolled in the program and could have their medical needs met. Delegate Bromwell can still vividly remember getting phone calls from individuals grateful that he introduced the legislation. “It was a feeling unlike any other thing I’d ever anticipated I’d feel and it lasts to this day. It’s the thing that really hooked me. I loved my job but then, I realized I could do a lot with this position.”

Since Delegate Bromwell’s initial recognition of the impact he could have in the General Assembly, he has been instrumental in passing a number of important bills. Just last year, he sponsored the ABLE Program legislation which created savings plans for individuals with developmental disabilities. Under Delegate Bromwell’s leadership, the legislation garnered bipartisan support in the House and Senate, as well as the Governor. During this year’s session, Delegate Bromwell will once again focus on ways the state can cut health care costs and provide Marylanders with better benefits. With a focus on the prescription drug industry, Delegate Bromwell is confident legislators can counteract the rising rates of insurance companies throughout the State. Despite the challenges before him in the 2017 legislative session, Delegate Bromwell remains encouraged. “I’m thankful everyday that I get to do the job I wanted to do when I was a kid. Not too many people get to do that and I don’t take it lightly or for granted.” Given Delegate Bromwell’s track record and commitment to doing what’s best for Maryland’s vulnerable populations, we expect another successful session for the Delegate.

By:  Kenneth N. Harris, Jr.

 

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