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2016 MACo Summer Conference: August 17-20, 2016 | Ocean City, MD
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2016 Western Maryland Local Government Exchange

The 2016 Western Maryland Local Government Exchange will take place September 9, 2016, at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Williamsport, Maryland. The Exchange’s goal is to provide an event where local government representatives and citizens can share information concerning best management practices for land use and other issues.

The focus for this year is on Western Maryland’s landscape and how it is changing and adapting to the changes. Registration information, along with the full agenda, can be found here

E-Prescriptions Rise as Option to Curb Opioid Epidemic

Traditional paper prescriptions present an opportunity for theft and forgery that can lead to drug diversion — a problem amidst the nation’s opioid crisis.

E-prescriptions make it harder for those types of illegal diversions to occur and their use is on the rise in states across America.

Route Fifty reports:

More prescriptions, even electronic ones, might seem like more problems. But in 2010 the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a rule green-lighting electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) in all 50 states because the process is more secure than pen and paper prescribing. Between 3 and 9 percent of all drug diversion occurs because patients steal pads and forge a doctors’ signatures on paper prescriptions.

New York became the first state to require EPCS on March 27, a response to the national opioid epidemic. So it’s no surprise they rank first in the number of pharmacies and prescribers that are EPCS enabled, as well as e-prescription percentage, according to a recent Surescripts report.

Nationally EPCS increased 600 percent in 2015 with Maine, No. 20,following New York’s lead with a blanket e-prescription requirement and Massachusetts, No. 9, said to be considering one after launching arevamped prescription drug monitoring program earlier this week.

EPCS is one tool in states’ arsenal fighting the opioid crisis, prescription pain relievers and heroin being responsible for 28,647 deaths in 2014 alone and the majority of overdoses since 2000, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the full article on Route Fifty for more information.

Japan Authorizes $2M to Study High-Speed Train In Maryland

Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. says his country has authorized $2 million to support a feasibility study on building a high-speed train between Baltimore and Washington. The money is for planning and an engineering analysis for the train, which could carry passengers from Washington to Baltimore in 15 minutes.

From The Baltimore Sun,

On Wednesday, Gov. Larry Hogan signed a trade agreement with Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, making Maryland the third state to sign such an agreement with Japan, the governor’s office said.

In June 2015, Hogan visited Japan and was enthralled with a maglev train, sometimes called a bullet train, that rushes past at more than 350 mph. He promised to explore a project connecting Washington and Baltimore, a $10 billion enterprise.

Japan’s $2 million pledge builds upon nearly $28 million in federal grants secured for environmental and engineering studies. Magnetic technology allows the trains to glide at ultra-fast speeds on a cushion of air.

Wednesday’s trade agreement also covered liquified natural gas, life sciences, trade and investment, and academics, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Last year, Hogan and Sasae met at Dominion Cove Point LNG in Calvert County to affirm plans by Japan companies to import liquified natural gas, bringing jobs and tax revenue to Maryland, the governor’s office said.

Read the full article for more information.


PSC Issues “Theft of Energy” Regs, Locals Granted Access

New regulations issued by the Maryland Public Service Commission provide local governments access to service termination information. 

The regulations stem from a fatal incident last year in Somerset County that officials believe may have prevented if these new procedures had been in place.

Delmarva Now reports:

Effective Monday, Aug. 15, utility providers must contact an occupant in person or by posted notice at the premise upon the termination of alleged meter tampering or hazardous conditions at the structure, according to the Maryland Public Service Commission. Before the measure, a utility company operating in Maryland by law could terminate service without notice under those circumstances, and contact with the structure’s occupant was not mandatory.

Along with the required on-site termination notice, a utility must inform occupants of a dwelling about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators, as well as about energy assistance and information about procedures to restore utility service.

The new, so-called theft-of-energy regulations apply to service terminations that are not due to nonpayment of a utility bill. They take effect after an outcry from state, local and neighborhood leaders who say the fatal outcome perhaps could have been prevented with a notification system that flags authorities.

Regulation revisions also require utility companies to notify the PSC within 24 hours of a service shut-off if the termination is due to alleged theft or meter tampering, or other unauthorized use of electricity or gas service. The PSC would in turn add the address of the service termination to an electronic database for use by local governments to extend assistance to a structure’s occupants.

The database launches in the weeks to come, and utilities have until Jan. 1, 2017 to establish a local notification system with local governments in their service region, PSC spokeswoman Tori Leonard said Tuesday.

Visit Delmarva Now for more information.

Caroline Commissioners Donate to Imagination Library Program

Caroline County Commissioners Larry Porter, Wilbur Levengood and Dan Franklin recently supported Imagine Library by approving a $3,000 allocation toward the program for FY17.

From The Times-Record,

Available free of charge to all children living in Caroline County, Imagination Library sends participants one new, high-quality children’s book, mailed to their home every month, from birth to age 5.

“The commissioners recognize that reading to young children and having good books in the home goes a long way toward creating lifelong learners in our county,” said Amanda Courie, youth services manager, Caroline County Public Library. “Their commitment to the education of our youngest children is wonderful.”

Courtesy of The Times-Record

Imagination Library of Caroline County is an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and is administered by the Caroline County Public Library. A partnership of community leaders assists in fundraising and marketing, and includes the following organizations: Maryland Rural Development Corporation, Family Support Center, Greensboro and Federalsburg Judy Centers, Caroline County Chamber of Commerce, Caroline Economic Development Corporation, Caroline County Human Services Council, Caroline County Public Schools, Caroline County Recreation and Parks, Caroline County Family YMCA and the Caroline County Commissioners Office.

Enrollment in the program, which opened one year ago, is now close to 1,100 children. The Dollywood Foundation provides administrative support for the program, with all other funds being raised locally. The cost is $25 per year, which covers the cost of 12 books and postage for one child. The program is free to participants and is funded through grants and donations.

Read the full article for more information.


Kent Offers Emergency Pet Evacuation Trailer

Kent County has a new trailer to serve as a temporary shelter for pets whose owners are forced to evacuate their homes after a hurricane, flood or other disasters. The trailer can provide shelter for as many as 65 cats, dogs, rabbits or other small pets.

From MyEasternShoreMD,

The trailer, sponsored by several organizations including the Maryland Kennel Club, was on display following the Kent County Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday. It includes cages, food, bedding and other supplies to keep pets safe, warm and well fed during an emergency displacement of their familes.

Courtesy of MyEasternShoreMD

Wayne Darrell, director of emergency services, said all counties on the Upper Shore now have pet trailers. In the event of a hurricane or other emergency, the trailer will be located at Kent County High School in Worton near the community center, which is the designated shelter for residents who need to evacuate.

The trailer cannot accommodate larger animals, such as farm livestock, Gregg said. Residents who need to provide for those animals in an emergency should have their own plans in place, she said. She said the OES can work with farmers and others with large animals to prepare them for emergencies.

The total cost of the trailer was $22,000, jointly funded by the Maryland Kennel Club, the Annapolis Kennel Club, the Mispillion Kennel Club, the Northeastern Maryland Kennel Club, the Kent County Commissioners, Daniel Gueriero and Michelle Leone, Fred and Duffy Askins, the Cairn Terrier Club of America, AKC Reunite and residents of Kent County.

Read the full article for more information.


FTA: Judge Should Reconsider Purple Line Delay

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) filed a motion for U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon to reconsider his ruling that the Purple Line Record of Decision be set aside until the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) recalculates ridership projections. On August 3, Leon ordered MTA to update its projections to account for WMATA’s “deterioration and declining ridership,” and set aside the Record of Decision until it completed such analysis. The Record of Decision is FTA’s stamp of approval on MTA’s Purple Line environmental analysis.

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Justice Department, representing FTA, argued in its motion that Leon:

erred by requiring FTA to conduct a new impact study rather than letting the agency decide whether one was necessary, and by not allowing the record of decision to stand while a review is underway.

“The Court impermissibly substituted its judgment for that of FTA in making the ultimate finding that the information on WMATA Metrorail’s issues present a significant environmental impact,” lawyers for the FTA wrote.

In response to the initial ruling, MTA cancelled a public signing ceremony of the Full Funding Grant Agreement, through which the U.S. grants Maryland $900 million toward the project.

A new ridership study could delay the project by six months and jeopardize a $5.6 billion public-private partnership that relies heavily on private construction financing.

Read Conduit Street’s previous Purple Line coverage.

#MACoCon Exhibits a Huge Success

MACo would like to thank all of the MACo Summer Conference Exhibitors for supporting the Summer Conference in Ocean City last week and for helping to offer such a successful conference. Both halls had good traffic with a lot of positive feedback. Check out the final list of exhibitors here.

DSC_6353-Edit-EditIn case you missed it, the MACo Summer Conference this year had two exhibit halls and one Tech Expo. The Tech Expo offered 24 Tabletop Displays showcasing Tech Vendors and the technology available to local governments. Exhibit Hall A/B, sponsored by BGE,  housed the State Village (34 State departments and agencies), a GIS Discovery Zone (6 GIS companies), and over 150 commercial vendors – all looking to do business with Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.

The theme of this year’s exhibit halls was Star Wars vs. Star Trek. Booth staff dressed up both their booths and their staff to reflect the exhibit hall theme. Prizes were awarded to the top three decorated booths (Register of Wills, Phillips Office Solutions and Calvert County), the best group costumes (AECOM Technical Services, Inc.), the best male costume (Jabba from FTS Fiber), and the best female costume (Guinan from the MD Department of Agriculture.)

Again, thank you exhibitors for another successful conference!


Planners Confront the Virtual World at #MACoCon

County officials and planners learned how planning is increasingly dealing with a virtual world through geographic information system (GIS) anad other technologies at the “Land Use in Virtual World” panel on August 19.

Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission Prince George’s County Division Chief James Cannistra discussed the visualization of data through GIS. He discussed the requirements of maintaining a useful GIS system (particularly the underlying data layers). Cannistra mentioned Prince George’s GIS open data initiative, which makes data and analysis tools available for public use. He also briefly discussed the zoning and permitting issues raised by the sharing economy, such as ride sharing or AirBnB. He urged counties to gather data on the use of such services in their jurisdictions and the likelihood of having to modify permitting requirements. Finally, he stressed the large potential of using drones to gather visualization data.

2016 MACo Summer Conference - Planning Panel
(L to R) Anthony Puzzo, Jim Cannistra, and Delegate Steve Lafferty

ESRI State and Local Government Manager Anthony Puzzo discussed how GIS 3D visualization can support long range planning, project review, and citizen and decision maker communication. Puzzo showed a 3D version of Washington DC and demonstrated how applying different data overlarys can easily show development impacts. He also discussed the emerging use of holograms, augmented reality (the technology used in Pokémon Go) and virtual reality in planning.

Maryland Delegate Stephen Lafferty moderated the panel. Lafferty asked what other technologies the panel anticipated coming beyond current 3D visualization. Cannistra mentioned allowing information available on mobile devices. Anthony reiterated the potential of virtual reality and augmented reality.



#MACoCon Winter Conference: An Ounce of Prevention

MACo is pleased to announce its 2016 Winter Conference theme: An Ounce of Prevention.

The Winter Conference will be held December 7-9, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge, MD. The conference theme, An Ounce of Prevention, will focus on how counties can prepare to best serve and protect their residents across many different areas of county service. Sessions will discuss public health, maintaining infrastructure, and strategies to be sure counties are ready for possible emergency scenarios, developing trends, and long-term changes.

The Memo to Potential Speakers – which includes details for submitting conference session proposals – is now available. Proposals are due by email to by September 21, 2016.