President Proposes $1.1 Billion to Fund Heroin, Opioid Addiction Treatment

President Obama is seeking an additional $1.1 billion in his FY17 budget request to expand access and fund heroin and opioid drug treatment programs.

As reported in USA Today:

This funding includes:

• $920 million to support cooperative agreements with states to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. States will receive funds based on the severity of the epidemic and their strategy to respond to it.  States can use these funds to expand treatment capacity and make services more affordable.

• $50 million in National Health Service Corps funding to expand access to about 700 substance use treatment providers. including medication-assisted treatment, in areas across the country most in need of mental health treatment.

• $30 million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs using medication-assisted treatment and help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.

The budget also includes about $500 million — an increase of more than $90 million — to build on efforts at the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to expand state prescription overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support enforcement activities. Part of the funding is directed specifically to rural areas. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who is from West Virginia, said the issue is a top priority of hers as her state is one of the most hard hit by drug abuse.

For more information read the full article in USA Today.

Governor’s “State of The State” Sets Tone and Priorities

Wednesday’s “State of the State” address from Governor Hogan to the General Assembly marked a formal outreach from the Administration to work together on a variety of issues. The much-watched address featured a conciliatory tone, and called for action on several priorities.

From coverage in the Washington Post:

In his second State of the State address, Hogan (R) called on legislators to work with him to expand efforts to reduce taxes and fees — a hallmark of his campaign and first year in office — and to embrace the “middle temperament” that he said defines Maryland, a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 ratio.

“There is so much more that unites us than that which divides us,” the governor said as lawmakers applauded.

The full text of the address is available on the Governor’s website.

IMLA’s Mid-Year Seminar April 15-18, 2016: Discount for Local Registrants

Registration is now available for the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) 2016 Mid-Year Seminar April 15-18 in Washington, D.C. IMLA is offering a discount to registrants attending from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and D.C.

IMLA logoInformation regarding the seminar:

IMLA is back in Washington, D.C. for the 2016 Mid-Year Seminar at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Not only will the Seminar be filled with regular programming with cutting edge topics and quality speakers, but it will also feature a separate Section 1983- Defending the Government Program!

Regular Program Highlight: When is a Lawyer Entitled to Overtime?

IMLA Seminar – The FLSA
The 2nd Circuit decided that a contract lawyer might be entitled to overtime under the FLSA in Lola v. Skadden, Arps. The IMLA Seminar in Washington, DC April 15 to April 18, 2016 at the Omni Shoreham, will discuss this case and other FLSA issues. From raising the salary levels to distinguish between exempt and non-exempt employees to distinguishing between employees and independent contractors the Wage and Hour Division is on a tear. Find out how the FLSA affects your clients. The Seminar will include other topical programs so stay tuned for updates on the most important issues in local government law today.

Sneak Peek: IMLA Section 1983 Program – Defending Local Governments

IMLA is pleased to offer a sneak preview of the IMLA Section 1983 program which will be a separate track at the IMLA Seminar in April. Rooms at the Omni will be tight, so go on-line now and make your reservations. Click here to make a reservation. Check out the tentative program for the Section 1983 Program, HERE.

CLICK HERE to view a tentative schedule of the Mid-Year Seminar.

Local attendees register here.

Maryland Board of Public Works – February 10, 2016 Agenda & Summary

Maryland’s Board of Public Works reviews projects, contracts, and expenditure plans for state agencies – many of which have effect on county governments. It meets on alternating Wednesdays and the meetings are open to the public.  The meeting will be held in Governor’s Reception Room on the 2nd floor of the State House in Annapolis.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 10 a.m. Materials for the upcoming meeting are available online:

For “frequently asked questions” about the Board’s charge and meetings, visit the Board’s website.

Harford County Anticipates ‘House of Cards’ Economic Boost

“…more than 460 Harford County businesses were directly affected…” 

Harford County saw an economic boost from the filming of the first four seasons of the series “House of Cards”, much of which was filmed in the county.

That increase in economic activity is anticipated to continue as the show has been renewed for a fifth season.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The show has created local jobs, as more than 3,000 Maryland businesses and more than 460 Harford County businesses were directly affected by “House of Cards” during the filming of Season 2, for example, Gerbes said.

Karen Holt, director of Harford County’s Office of Economic Development, said her department is “pleased” to see the show stay in Maryland.

“The relationships cultivated among our business community, host production sites, law enforcement and the myriad of employment opportunities from crew to catering to extras, has helped showcase the diverse offerings of Harford County while spotlighting the County and the State of Maryland as film friendly,” Holt said in a statement emailed Monday.

“County Executive [Barry] Glassman has been a supportive voice through his ties in Annapolis for the film industry in recognizing this economic driver for our community,” she said.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.

MACo Opposes Repeal of State Board of Environmental Health Specialists

On February 3, 2016 Natasha Mehu, MACo Policy Analyst, testified in opposition to SB 200, Health Occupations – Environmental Health Specialists – Regulation, to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

This bill would repeal the State Board of Environmental Health Specialists and shift licensure responsibilities to the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).

The proposed change will have a negative and costly impact on our local governments and the environmental health specialists that they employ. Both employee recruitment and employee retention will suffer as a result of this bill.

The field of environmental health already faces difficulties attracting new workers. NEHA licensure requirements will create a more stringent and expensive path to licensure than what is currently in place in Maryland – an additional deterrent to new employee prospects.

The shift also presents a threat to retaining existing employees due to the fact that there is no guarantee of reciprocity with current state licensed specialists.

In many cases these hard-working and experienced employees will have to take and pass the NEHA exam to continue their work. An additional subset of employees may not be able to meet the minimum education requirements under NEHA, requirements that did not exist when they were first licensed to practice in the state.

From the MACo testimony,

MACo is concerned that shifting state licensure oversight and requirements to the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) will create barriers to employment and result in a loss of employees. Counties rely on their staff of environmental health specialists to perform inspections and enforce compliance with health and environmental laws that help ensure citizens are safe. For decades, the state board has been instrumental in ensuring there has been a knowledgeable, skilled, and disciplined environmental specialist workforce in the state.

An identical cross-filed bill, HB 497, will be heard on February 9 in the House.

For more on MACo 2016 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.





President Signs Bill Requiring Childproof Packaging for E-Cigarettes

President Obama has signed into law the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act which requires child-resistant containers for liquid nicotine e-cigarette cartridges.

MACo supported a bill introduced in Maryland (SB 204) that would have achieved much of the same goals. The federal victory made the need for a state bill unnecessary.

An article in The Consumerist shares a hypothesis as to the regulation authority under the new law and the requirements for “child-resistant” packaging:

In the National Law Review, three attorneys with expertise in consumer protection and e-cigarette industry regulations speculate that the job of regulating these containers–but not the liquid that goes inside them–would fall to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Yes, there are always exceptions to the idea that a package is “child-resistant.” The CPSC’s test protocols state that a package has to keep 80% of children tested stumped for five minutes.

An article in USA Today reports on the recent increase in child nicotine poisonings that has been associated with the rise in e-cigarette use, and the industry’s response to the new law:

The number of child poisonings has climbed dramatically as the popularity of e-cigarettes has grown, climbing from 271 cases in 2011 to 3,783 in 2014, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. More than half of poisoning cases have occurred in children under age 6.

The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, which represents e-cigarette companies, has supported legislation to create a standard requirement for child-proof caps. Many e-cigarette makers already use child-resistant packaging. “We believe vapor products should be accessible only to adults and support the reasonable regulation of e-liquid packaging consistent with current regulation of other products not intended for ingestion,” said Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the trade association, in a statement released after the bill passed the Senate in December.

For more information read the full article in The Consumerist and USA Today

MACo Calls for County Representation on Proposed Self-Driving Vehicle Task Force

MACo Policy Analyst, Robin Clark, testified to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support with amendments of SB 126 on February 2, 2016. SB 126 would create a task force to study issues related to the use of self-driving vehicles.

MACo supports the bill with amendments that add additional county representatives to the task force. The additional representatives would allow county input into the law enforcement, road design, and maintenance challenges that self-driving/autonomous vehicles pose to county governments.

MACo’s written testimony states,

For counties, the three key issues with autonomous vehicles are: (1) changes in road design and maintenance; (2) law enforcement practices; and (3) liability issues.

MACo supports having a task force or workgroup to address these important issues and has been participating in an Autonomous Vehicle Working Group that was formed by the Maryland Department of Transportation in December of 2015. That working group is looking at the same issues as proposed by SB 126 but has several more local government participants.

Currently, HB 8 provides for a representative from the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association. MACo’s attached amendment would also add a representative from the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association and a county engineer or public works representative.

An identical cross-filed bill, HB 8, was heard on January 28 in the House.

For more on MACo 2016 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.


MACo Opposes Expanding Apprenticeship Requirements for School Construction

On February 3, 2016 MACo Research Director, Robin Clark Eilenberg, testified to the House Health and Governmental Operations Committee in opposition of HB 108, Capital Budget – Construction Projects – Apprenticeship Requirements.

This legislation creates apprenticeship requirements for any project that receives $100,000 or more in the state capital budget. The legislation expands existing apprenticeships requirements for school construction projects and other public works projects.

Extending apprenticeship requirements as envisioned in the legislation could reduce the number of contractors who bid on school construction contracts. Reducing the number of bidders is likely to reduce competition and drive-up costs.

From the MACo testimony,

In recent years, the school construction industry has been subject to additional labor and environmental regulations. These regulations have the effect of directly increasing labor costs, and of discouraging small contractors from the construction market.

An identical cross-filed bill, SB 457, is scheduled to be heard on February 18 in the Senate.

For more on MACo 2016 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

Seat Belt Mandate Bill Triggers Big Cost Concerns

MACo Policy Analyst, Robin Clark Eilenberg, testified to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in opposition to SB 183, School Vehicles – Seat Belts – Requirements on February 2, 2016. The bill would require every school vehicle registered in Maryland to be equipped with seat belts for every seat in the vehicle.

MACo appreciates the bill’s underlying goal of improving student safety on school vehicles. The reason for MACo’s opposition is not the policy change; the reason is the cost of the mandate.

Maryland school boards do not have independent ability to raise revenue. They are completely dependent on county, state, and federal funding. As this bill does not reference any state or federal funding, it is a mandate that requires 100% local funding.

From MACo’s testimony,

Achieving the aims of the bill through either retrofitting existing school buses or purchasing new school buses has been estimated to cost more than $50 million. Without a State partnership to reach the policy aims of SB 183, this legislation represents an unfunded mandate on local school boards.

 For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.