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2016 MACo Winter Conference: December 7-9, 2016 | Cambridge, MD
COMING SOON: Registration, Exhibitor & Sponsorship Brochures
Attendee Online Registration | #MACoCon | Conduit Street Coverage

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Jobs, Income, Education, and Health Insurance Trends in Maryland

The Maryland State Data Center has released the 2015 American Community Survey with comparison data from 2008 through 2015.

From the summary:

ECONOMY

  • Maryland’s unemployment rate continued to fall. . .
  • Median household income continues to remain stagnant. . .

HEALTH INSURANCE

  • The percent of Marylanders with health insurance increased to 93.4 percent in 2015, a statistically significant increase from the 92.1 percent in 2014. . .

EDUCATION

  • . . . the weak job market post Great Recession had led to increased educational attainment, as more people stay in school gaining the skills and training which will make them more marketable. . .

HOUSING

  • The median value of owner-occupied homes had statistically significant increase in 2015. . .

For more information, see the 2015 American Community Survey and these links:

 A Status Report on Maryland from the American Community Survey

 Household Income for Maryland and Its Jurisdictions, 1999 to 2015

 Comparison of 2015 with 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011 for State of Maryland and Its Jurisdictions

 Jurisdiction Summary Graphs

Proposals for 2017’s School Calendar Jockey Options Under Order

Following the Governor’s order on school start dates, Montgomery County’s school board is working through several new options for next year’s school calendar.

As reported by the Washington Post, a Montgomery school board committee has come up with a few possible plans for next year’s school year.

Two of the three proposals the committee backed would set the opening of school just after Labor Day, on Sept. 5, in 2017. A third proposal includes an Aug. 28 start, a plan that is similar to what Montgomery does now.

The option that complies with the Hogan decree would trim a day from Montgomery’s typical 184-day school year. But it also stands to affect spring break. If 2017-2018 brings more than three snow days, spring break could be cut back by up to three days.

For more information, see the full story, One Md. school system grapples with state order to start school after Labor Day from the Washington Post.

Next Steps on Next Generation 9-1-1

County Emergency Managers, Public Safety Answering Point Directors, and Public Safety GIS staff meet in Baltimore to set shared priorities and challenges for Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in Maryland.  

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Scott Roper, Executive Director of the Emergency Number Systems Board speaks with attendees at the Next Generation 9-1-1 Round Table.

On September 23, Emergency Managers, Public Safety Answering Point Directors, and Public Safety GIS staff from across Maryland gathered for a Round Table on Next Generation 9-1-1.

The event featured local, state, and national experts, each of whom spoke about the best practices, challenges, and implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1. MACo’s Emergency Manager’s affiliate and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council hosted the event in Baltimore.

Next Generation 9-1-1 issues are of top concern for county governments that are seeking to improve and enhance their handling of 9-1-1 calls from cell phone users with technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.

Implementation of new geographic information systems and other updates will come at a cost, however, and counties are seeking the most cost effective implementation through statewide and regional collaboration.

From the Round Table:

  • Trey Fogerty, Director of Government Affairs of the National Emergency Numbers Association, spoke about issues with cyber security and reliability of current 9-1-1 systems, as well as opportunities for improvement with Next Generation 9-1-1 systems. Fogerty also pointed out that Next Generation 9-1-1 is necessary because there are significant gaps between the data that can be sent via cellphone over data networks and the information most emergency call centers are capable of receiving.
  • Steve Souder, Director Fairfax County Dept. of 9-1-1 / Public Safety Communications, discussed the importance of accurate GIS mapping for the successful implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1. Souder stressed that GIS is of utmost importance to Next Generation 9-1-1 because it will be the lone utility that determines where a call was made from and where it will be routed.
  • Scott Roper, Executive Director of the Maryland Emergency Number Systems Board, spoke about the challenges of federal regulation for Next Generation 9-1-1. Roper also discussed the importance of collaboration between local government officials and wireless telephone carriers, especially in the event of a system failure.
  • Dave Sehnert, Senior Consultant, Mission Critical Partners and Lori Stone, Region III Lead, FirstNet, spoke about the technological capabilities of Next Generation 9-1-1, along with a potential increase in staff required to implement new technologies associated with the platform.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for updates on the work of MACo’s Emergency Management Affiliate on this subject, and programming on this topic at the MACo Winter Conference.

Maryland Files Suit Against Addiction Treatment Drugmakers

Maryland has joined 35 other states in filing an antitrust lawsuit against opioid drug treatment manufacturers.

The suit alleges the manufacturers conspired to block competition for a drug used to treat opioid addiction. Consumers shouldered artificially high costs for the treatment drugs and the manufacturers benefited financially from the monopoly.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania, alleges that Reckitt Benckiser, now known as Indivior, and MonoSol Rx conspired to block generic competitors for Suboxone by switching the drug from a tablet to a dissolving film. As a result, consumers have been paying artificially high prices for Suboxone since 2009, when a generic alternative might otherwise have become available.

“The defendants in this case have preyed on a vulnerable population — men and women trying overcome the scourge of opioid addiction,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh in a statement. “Free and fair competition is necessary to keep drug prices affordable and to keep much-needed prescription drugs accessible to those who rely on them for treatment.”

As reported in Governingthe states suing the manufacturers include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

For more information:

Maryland among 36 states suing makers of heroin addiction treatment drug Suboxone for antitrust violation (The Baltimore Sun)

More Than 30 States Sue Drugmakers Over Soaring Prices (Governing)

 

White House Data Driven Justice Call

The White House Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) initiative  is reaching out to county’s interested in demonstrating leadership to improve their criminal justice system’s response to people with mental illness.

The DDJ is a bipartisan coalition of states, counties, and cities committed to using data analytics to divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and to changing approaches to pre-trial incarceration so that low-risk offenders no longer stay in jail simply because they cannot afford a bond. To date, more than 80 jurisdictions covering more than 80 million Americans have joined this initiative, working together to scale effective, data-driven strategies to save taxpayer dollars and better serve their communities.

The White House is holding a forty-five minute call on Tuesday, September 27th to provide an overview of DDJ. The call they will be providing information about resources available from private sector, academic, and philanthropic organizations who have made commitments of support for DDJ community members. They will also use the call to answer questions and provide additional information on how your community can formally join the initiative.

If you have any questions, would like to participate in the call or join DDJ directly, please contact Lynn Overmann, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President at  Lynn_D_Overmann@ostp.eop.gov or visit the White House Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) initiative website.

 

Commissioner Rothschild And Carroll Commissioners Commemorate Constitution Week

During a September 22 meeting of the Carroll County Commissioners, the County issues a proclamation in support of national Constitution Week. According to the Daughters of the American revolution website, the Week is dedicated to:

  • Emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution.
    Inform people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life.
    Encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787.
  • Prior to the Commissioners’ action, Commissioner Richard Rothschild offered his perspectives on the Constitution, which are captured on the following YouTube video produced by Carroll County Government.

    Auditor: $8.7M In County/Muni Income Taxes Distributed Incorrectly

    An audit has found that nearly $9 million in local income taxes were incorrectly distributed to municipal governments by the Office of the Comptroller.

    An independent audit, contracted through the Comptroller’s office, has determined that a multi-year problem of assigning tax returns to municipal addresses in Montgomery County resulted in incorrect assignment of revenues to various cities and towns. The net result: an accumulated overpayment to some cities, an underpayment to some others, and a substantial underpayment to Montgomery County government.

    As preliminary news of this administrative problem arose prior to the 2016 legislative session, the General Assembly passed a new law governing the terms of settling any such overpayments and underpayments (not jsut the incident cases). MACo supported that bill, which ultimately provided a ten-year repayment schedule for local governments found to have been over-distributed. Those under-distributed are to be made whole immediately.

    In Baltimore Sun coverage of the audit (based on a pre-release copy), the paper reports:

    Auditors blame the mistake on the erroneous classification of more than 14,000 returns.

    Auditors also found problems with how the office handles out-of-state tax credits, keeps information secure, and issues replacement refund checks. The audit, obtained by The Baltimore Sun, is expected to be broadly released Thursday.

    The comptroller’s office said it has worked diligently to correct the mistakes.

    MACo’s Weekly News and Notes…from Twitter

    The social media site Twitter has become a fast-moving setting for news, information, and advocacy on public affairs. We welcome followers of MACo’s own twitter feed for updates from the Conduit Street blog and other MACo hot topics, and often use Twitter to reach our own audience, and to hear from others following the same issues as county leaders.

    Here are some tweets that caught our eye this week:

    For more news and information:

    Follow MACo
    Follow Executive Director Michael Sanderson
    Follow NACo
    See Tweets on #mdpolitics

    Is a Christmas Bonus Part of a Salary?

    The Department of Labor releases commonly asked questions and answers on the new federal overtime regulations.

    As reported by ADP’s Research Institute,

    Subsequent to the release of the final regulations the [Department of Labor] DOL held a number of webinars to address concerns regarding the new overtime rules. From these sessions, the DOL has created 115 frequently asked questions (FAQs) designed to provide more clarity to the upcoming December 1 effective changes.

    Here is one question, as published by ADP:

    Q. Can an employer say that an Xmas bonus is part of your salary in effort to meet the new standard?

    A. When the Final Rule takes effect on December 1, 2016, employers will newly be allowed to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level with nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions). Nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments are forms of compensation promised to employees, for example, to induce them to work more efficiently or to remain with the company. By contrast, discretionary bonuses are those for which the decision to award the bonus and the payment amount is at the employer’s sole discretion and not in accordance with any preannounced standards. An unannounced holiday bonus would qualify as a discretionary bonus, because the bonus is entirely at the discretion of the employer, and therefore could not satisfy any portion of the $913 standard salary level.

    Read a sampling of the Department of Labor’s FAQs on ADP’s website or read the complete list of 155 FAQs from the Department of Labor.

    For additional background on the regulations and how they effect county governments, see Conduit Street‘s previous posts,

    Report: The Cost of Work-Family Policy Inaction

    An analysis quantifies the costs families currently face as a result of lacking U.S. work-family policies as $28.9 billion.

    A report from the Center for American Progress focuses on the cost to families of work-family policies such as paid family and medical leave. From the synopsis,

    The lack of federal work-family policies in the United States marks the nation as an extreme outlier among other advanced economies. One of the many costs of the lack of work-family policies is lost wages, which occur when individuals are forced to quit working or must reduce their work hours because they cannot access child care or paid leave. Every year, as our new analysis shows, working families in the United States lose out on at least $28.9 billion in lost wages because they lack access to affordable child care and paid family and medical leave.

    Read the full report from the Center for American Progress.

    Maryland’s General Assembly will likely pass a mandatory sick leave legislation in this coming year’s legislative session. Last year, the sick leave bill passed the House in the final days of the legislature’s calendar, but it did not proceed through the Senate for final passage.

    While county government employers provide generous work-family policies to full time employees, the legislation in the General Assembly last year would require extension of the provision of earned sick leave to part time and seasonal employees.

    For more information on Maryland’s sick leave legislation, see Conduit Street‘s previous post, House Sends Amended Sick Leave Bill to Senate.