Slaughenhoupt Tabbed To Lead Rural Coalition

Calvert County Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt has been selected as the new Chair of the Rural County Coalition, a MACo Chapter Organization.

Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt, courtesy of the Chesapeake Current

From coverage in the Calvert Recorder:

The coalition includes 16 member counties, according to its website.

As chairman, Slaughenhoupt’s main responsibility will be to coordinate interactions between the Rural Counties Coalition and state legislators, he said in an interview.

“Any time folks from an organization reach out to you and ask you to play a major role in that organization, it’s a humbling experience,” Slaughenhoupt said.

Visit the MRCC website or the MACo MRCC sub-page for more information about the Coalition.

Which Maryland County Has this Special Connection to France?

Marquis de Lafayette was instrumental in the American Revolution. Painting by Charles Wilson Peale of Lafayette in his Continental Army Uniform.

MACo County Trivia

This week’s question:

Which Maryland County did Marquis de Lafayette visit in 1781 to meet with French troops supporting a Revolutionary War campaign into Virginia?

According to multiple sources, Lafayette was born in south central France to a wealthy family. As a young adult, he became convinced that the American cause in its revolutionary war was noble, and traveled to the New World seeking glory in it. In 1781, troops in Virginia under his command blocked forces led by Cornwallis until other American and French forces could position themselves for the decisive Siege of Yorktown.

As described by one Maryland resident, Lafayette made a splash upon his arrival to this Maryland county seat in 1781,

The divine Marquis de la Fayette is in town, and is quite the thing.

A correct answer will be chosen at random and the winner and answer will be published in next week’s This Week on Conduit Street. Congratulations to Paul Goldsworthy, the winner of last week’s trivia. Goldsworthy is the Superintendent of the Allegany County Roads Division. Kearby answered our county trivia question correctly: Kent County has the smallest population of any Maryland County. In the 2010 census, Kent County had 20,197 residents.

Montgomery Legislators Consider Potential Bills for 2016 Session

A November 18, 2015, Bethesda Magazine article reported that Montgomery County’s Delegation members are considering bills for the 2016 Session tackling a wide variety of issues, including letting private distributors sell certain alcohol products in the County rather than going through County’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC),  increasing the number of early voting centers, allowing the production and sale of alcohol near schools and churches and at stadiums, creating a County student loan refinancing authority,  and establishing general and special elections for school board member positions where an elected member has stepped down before the end of the member’s term. From the article:

To allow private distributors to sell specific craft beer and wines in the countyMC 7-16

This bill is the result of a resolution passed over the summer by the Montgomery County Council to enable private distributors to sell “special order” products in the county. Currently the DLC controls the wholesale distribution of all alcohol in the county. Special order products include specific craft beers and fine wines that the DLC doesn’t sell in large volumes. …

To increase the number of early voting centers – MC 14-16

This bill would increase the number of early voting centers from eight to 10 in the county. The legislation follows controversy surrounding early voting centers after the Board of Elections voted to relocate centers in Burtonsville and Chevy Chase. The Republican majority board later reinstated the voting centers after Democrats vehemently protested the change. However, after the controversy was settled, County Executive Ike Leggett said in a letter he would support state legislation that would add an early voting site in Potomac.

To enable the county to set up a student loan refinancing authority – MC 27-16

More than a dozen county representatives signed on to support this bill, which would enable the county to set up a student loan refinancing authority. The authority could help local students finance the cost of higher education through loans it would offer, according to the bill. Because this is “enabling legislation,” the bill would not automatically set up the authority upon passage; county officials would have to establish the authority and appoint a five-member board to run it. If established, the authority could then raise funds by issuing bonds in order to provide college loans to students. …

To set a special election to fill vacant school board seats – MC 2-16

This bill would set special primary and general elections to replace a Montgomery County Board of Education member who steps down at least a year before the end of his or her term. The election dates would be set by the county executive, and if an upcoming election is already scheduled for between 60 to 120 days from the board member stepping down, the special election would coincide with that previously scheduled election. Under current regulations, the school board is permitted to select a “qualified individual” if a board member steps down during his or her term.

Prince George’s Legislators Unveil 2016 Priorities

A November 16, 2015, Washington Post article reported that members of the Prince George’s County Delegation have announced their priorities for the 2016 Session, including a County tax on plastic bags, school system reporting and oversight, assisting nonprofits who cannot meet the County’s minimum wage law, and changing the amount and cost of County-issued liquor licenses.  From the article:

A bag tax? Delegation Chair Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s) will once again introduce a bill that will give Prince George’s government the authority to impose a 5-cent tax on retail stores that provide disposable bags. Similar bills failed to emerge from committee last year and a statewide bill, proposed by county lawmakers, died in 2012 by one vote.

School finances: During County Executive Rushern L. Baker’s (D) campaign to raise property taxes for schools last spring, opponents dominated the debate with concerns about the school system’s finances. Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D) is proposing that CEO Kevin Maxwell be required to report regularly to the General Assembly about financial management practices cited in a scathing 2014 audit by the state.

School inspector general: Del. Alonzo Washington (D) is tacking on more school accountability measures with a proposed bill to establish an inspector general’s office responsible for investigating and examining complaints about the public schools. …

County supplement for nonprofits: Del. Dereck E. Davis (D)…has signed on as a sponsor for a bill attempting to address an unintended consequence of the county’s raising of the minimum wage. A council of Prince George’s nonprofit organizations working with residents with intellectual disabilities says they cannot afford the county’s minimum wage scale, which exceeds the state’s. Negotiations with county leaders failed, and nonprofit leaders are asking the delegation to force county government to reimburse them for millions of dollars to make up the difference and keep their operations running.


Commission to Review Testing in Public Schools Begins

A new commission will develop recommendations to state and local school boards on student testing.

As described in the Maryland Reporter, a legislatively created commission began its work this week to review the use of student assessments and testing in Maryland.

The Commission comprises state legislators, state and local school board representatives and other members of the education community.

The article quotes Delegate Eric Ebersole, a former math teacher and current member of the House Ways and Means Committee stating that if the commission’s recommendations are not adopted by the state board and local school boards, legislation for the 2017 legislative session could be in the works. The article states,

“A few people criticized me and said, ‘Why didn’t you pass a law to get rid of testing?’ and the answer was testing is very entrenched, but not entirely unnecessary,” said [Delegate] Ebersole.

For more information, see the Maryland Reporter article, Md. commission studies testing in all 24 school districts.

Hopkins Report: Go After Opioid Supply Chain

A report recently released by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health suggests that policy leaders target prescribers and dispensers in the ongoing efforts to curb opioid abuse and misuse.

From coverage in the Washington Post:

Stricter guidelines for prescribing and dispensing powerful pain medications are needed to curb the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic, according to a report released Monday from public-health leaders at Johns Hopkins University.

The analysis offered broad recommendations for addressing opioid abuse, but it stood out for its focus on the supply chain, including physicians and pharmacists.

It called for greater monitoring, training and rule-making to prevent misuse of opioids, addiction and overdoses, and said that doctors often prescribe pain medications “in quantities and for conditions that are excessive, and in may cases, beyond the evidence base.”

MACo has adopted opioid concerns as one of its 2016 legislative initiatives, targeting the widespread issue as a priority for the second straight year:

Addressing the Drug Problems Across the Counties – Heroin and drug misuse continue to be threats to the lives and livelihood of county citizens. Both an Administration Task Force and a General Assembly Joint Committee have taken the initiative to fight addiction, reduce drug misuse and related crime, and treat and reduce behavioral health and opioid use disorders. MACo supports these initiatives, and advocates broadly in support of budgetary and legislative action providing counties with resources to address drug misuse and provide vital education, prevention, and treatment.

Read the full Johns Hopkins report online.

Andrea Mansfield Departing MACo Staff For New Annapolis Opportunity

MACo’s Legislative Director Andrea Mansfield will depart the staff after the winter conference, and will join a powerful lobbying firm in Annapolis.

For six years, Andrea has served in a lead role on MACo’s policy team, working in multiple policy areas including budget and taxation issues, finance, transportation, public health, and elections.Andrea Mansfield, MACo's Legislative Director

She has been a regular fixture at the testimony table on MACo’s behalf, managed MACo’s legislative tracking and analysis efforts, and staffed the Association’s Tax and Revenue Subcommittee. Andrea also has worked closely with several of MACo’s professional affiliate groups, and helped develop the recently established Budget and Finance Officers affiliate into a productive and thriving county resource.

“Andrea has been a visible and important part of MACo’s successes in her time here,” said Executive Director Michael Sanderson. “She has worked tirelessly on counties’ behalf, and has been a tremendous leader and part of our team.”

Andrea will join the lobbying firm Manis, Canning & Associates, whose broad client base makes them one of the top advocacy agents working in Maryland state government.

Kent Island Development Awarded Key Approval

A longstanding debate over the Four Seasons development project proposed for Kent Island in Queen Anne’s County received approval from the Board of Public Works this week. Opponents still plan to litigate the matter, so a final resolution may not be in sight.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved an environmental permit Wednesday for a long-disputed Kent Island housing development after a top state wetlands official said the project would pollute less than the farms now there.

By a 2-1 vote, the board approved a permit needed for the proposed 1,079-unit Four Seasons subdivision on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

The board’s action does not mean Hovnanian will be able to break ground soon. Jay Falstad, executive director of the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, said his organization and others would take the issue to court. Twice before, disputes involving the Four Seasons project were fought all the way to Maryland’s highest court, taking years to reach a resolution.

Read the Sun article online (limited free views available).


Are You Following Your County Leaders?

The Maryland Association of Counties has compiled a list of current Maryland County Elected Officials on Twitter. Are you following your own county elected officials? Are you catching them discussing best practices, local issues, and partnerships in government?

twitter logoClick here to view the list and start following!

Are you a county elected official and we missed you? Did we inspire you to start a Twitter account? Send us your handle!

Read Twitter’s own best practices guide for users in Government and Politics.

And be sure to follow MACo on twitter too!

“Project Healthy Delivery” Will Reduce Drug Addiction in Harford County Newborns

County program brings drug-addicted newborns and their mothers treatment through partnerships between government, hospital, and nonprofit service providers.

Screenshot 2015-11-19 09.46.33
Harford County Executive Glassman’s heroin initiative will help fund treatment for the increasing number of drug-addicted newborns and their mothers.

To protect Harford County’s youngest citizens from the heroin epidemic seizing the nation, County Executive Barry Glassman and his administration are initiating an innovative program to reduce drug addiction in newborn babies.

According to Harford County,

Over the past 14 years, the Health Department reports a 142 percent increase in the number of Harford County newborns exposed to drugs and/or alcohol. More than 300 babies were born addicted to drugs in the last four years alone.

Through Project Health Delivery the government will  bring resources to mothers and infants in need. The program will coordinate private and nonprofit health service providers and fill in the gaps with dedicated funding to help address the heroin crisis. From the press release,

Under Project Healthy Delivery, treatment resources will be brought to Harford County through a partnership between Harford County government, the Birthright of Bel Air Pregnancy Center, Addictions Connections Resource (ACR), and Father Martin’s Ashley Outpatient Treatment Program at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Hospital. Pregnant women seeking assistance will be offered drug and alcohol assessments, counseling, and individualized treatment plans at the hospital in Bel Air from Dr. Mariana Izraelson and her treatment staff at the Ashley Outpatient Treatment Center.

Harford County government will provide funding from County Executive Glassman’s heroin initiative to help cover the expense of drug testing and mental health screening, transportation, and “gap” funding for uninsured mothers and treatment services not covered by insurance. ACR will provide case management and financial support for this at-risk population. Birthright will offer expectant mothers support, family planning and parenting classes.

For more information, see the Harford County Press Release.