State Rep. Tom Murt has announced he will not be seeking re-election to the 152nd Legislative District seat he first won in 2006.
The Republican, whose district includes Bryn Athyn, Hatboro, Lower Moreland, Upper Moreland, parts of Upper Dublin and Philadelphia, said he “always wanted to leave while I’m still effective and at the top of my game.”
“It’s time for someone else to pick up the banner and serve,” he said.
Other than wanting to “spend more time with my family,” Murt said he has no immediate plans after his term ends, but may return to teaching.
He’s also working on a book about the workings of Harrisburg.
Born and raised in Hatboro, the 59-year-old Upper Moreland resident holds a master’s in education from La Salle University and a doctorate in educational administration from Temple University. Prior to becoming a state representative, he served as assistant director of the Counseling and Advising Center at Penn State Abington, where he is a part-time faculty member teaching in the business department.
He also previously served on the Upper Moreland School District Board and 10 years on the Upper Moreland Township Board of Commissioners.
A member of the U.S. Army Reserve from 1980 to 2008, Murt was called to active duty in 2003 and served 14 months in Iraq with the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division.
As a legislator, his main focus has been to advocate for adults with special needs, veterans, mental health and addictions, Murt said.
Among his achievements, he said, “I wrote the law that criminalizes female genital mutilation, which was signed into law in 2018, and rewrote the child labor law in Pennsylvania protecting especially those who work in entertainment industry.”
Referring to the former reality TV show “John & Kate Plus 8,” he said “there were some inappropriate things going on, and we rewrote the law to protect [the children]” and others in the industry. The law now says if children are pulled out of school to work in the entertainment industry, “there needs to be a certified teacher on the set” to ensure the children are “making grade-appropriate progress in their education.”
In the area of mental health, he said he’s working on legislation to “ensure mental health parity in Pennsylvania,” so “insurance companies would be required to cover a mental illness and addiction the same way it covers physical health.”
“I’m most proud that we have secured increased funding for programs and services for adults with special needs every year,” he said, noting “it was underfunded for years.”
He’s also “proud we’ve made progress reforming the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse,” he said.
Looking ahead, Murt said, “I’m a teacher by profession; I might be back in education.
“I want to continue to help vets, adults with special needs and those struggling with mental illness and addiction.
“I’ve been offered a few positions, but I’m not ready to take any job right now,” he said.
He is also writing “a book about some of the dynamics in Harrisburg —some of the things that go on, the legislative process.”
“It’s been a great honor to serve; it was the fulfillment of a dream as a youngster … to be a full-time public servant,” Murt said.
“The great thing about the job is you get a chance almost every day to make the world a better place for constituents to take care of their families,” he said, adding his Hatboro office is the busiest district office in Pennsylvania.
“The most important thing I think a legislator should have is compassion and empathy,” he said. “You can’t fake that — constituents and those you serve know if you care about them or not. I hope people know my staff and I always cared about them.”