Shortcut image

Legislative Issues: End of Session Wrap-Ups | MACo Initiatives | Bill Tracking | MACo Testimony | Issue Papers |
Committee Schedule

Hot Topics: Local Infrastructure Fast Track (LIFT4MD) | Transportation Scorecard | Justice Reforms | County Budgets | Education | Land Use | Transportation | OPEN MEETINGS ACT

Important Documents/Links: MD General Assembly
| MACo Testimony Summary | Budgets & Tax Rates
| Salary Survey | Local Finances | Spending Affordability

FY2018 Budget/Fiscal Links: County Effects | Fiscal Briefing | Two Year Charts | Overview of State Aid | County Revenue Outlook | Local Government Finances & Demographics

MACo Summer Conference: Register | View Schedule | #MACoCon | Hotels | More Info

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

stephen cox
Stephen Cox will speak about opportunities for high school students to learn about fire service in Harford County.

It’s back to the future for Maryland’s students. Not all need a college degree to succeed, but training will be key.

Schools are changing course to prepare students for a new economy, including careers that will not require study at a four-year undergraduate institution. And even for those who pursue higher education, technical skills will be an asset. Hear how high schools are incorporating careers into the classroom through partnership with industry experts, and programs that provide job training and certification at this year’s summer conference session, Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads: Let Career Training Transport Maryland Students.

  • Speakers:
    • Stephen Cox, Cadet Program Coordinator, Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association
    • Lynne Gilli, Assistant State Superintendent Division of Career and College Readiness, Maryland State Department of Education
    • Michael Thomas, Director, Office of Learning to Work, Baltimore City Public Schools
    • Kristine Pearl, Supervisor Career and Technology Education, Frederick County Public Schools
  • Moderator: The Honorable Jim Rosapepe, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Saturday, August 19, 2017; 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

Police: Opioid Overdose Spike in Anne Arundel Due to Prescription Painkillers

With 2017 now at a record-setting pace for opioid overdose deaths in Anne Arundel County, police say a string of fatalities are due to medical emergencies now understood to be caused by prescription painkillers.

According to The Capital Gazette,

The county has now seen 85 deaths due to opioid overdoses as of Wednesday, 10 more than during the same period last year.

But while the vast majority are attributed to heroin and fentanyl, police say this uptick is largely because a number of deaths with previously unknown causes now being classified as due to prescription painkillers.

Police spokesman Marc Limansky said 12 of the 15 overdose deaths reported as new from last week are the result of four months’ worth of unknown fatalities being characterized as due to prescription opioids by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

He said several of the cases were originally reported to be overdoses on unknown prescriptions. He said some were situations where police had found a victim dead at the scene and the initial investigation could only determine that the person had overdosed, but not from what.

Health officials have warned doctors throughout the state about the risk of overprescribing the drugs as they say it can lead to their misuse or abuse.

“I think that if prescription opioids are available without people understanding or having (conversations) with their health care providers about their risks, that can lead to misuse,” said Sandy O’Neill, director of behavioral health services at the Anne Arundel County Department of Health.

Limansky and Annapolis police spokeswoman Cpl. Amy Miguez said police have responded to cases where people died after mixing or misunderstanding their dosage, especially if they are on other medications.

There is also still the worry that people who are prescribed opioids will develop a dependence on or tolerance to them, which many medical professionals say can lead users to turn to illicit street drugs like heroin when their prescription runs out.

County Executive Steve Schuh sent a letter to the region’s doctors and prescribers in May echoing these concerns.

“Most of our constituents with substance-use disorders began their path to addiction after forming dependencies to opioids prescribed as a result of an injury or other medical issue,” Schuh wrote in a joint letter with then-county Health Officer Jinlene Chan.

“Their opioid dependence may have led to obtaining illegal street opioids like heroin, sometimes laced with fentanyl, after valid prescriptions ran out.”

O’Neill said her department has seen many of the region’s prescribers begin to discuss alternative pain medication and treatment in the wake of the state’s opioid problem.

“It’s really important that people just have really candid conversations with their health care providers and ask those questions” about alternative treatment and risks, she said.

Read The Capital Gazette to learn more.

Learn how counties are utilizing a collaborative approach to address Maryland’s heroin and opioid epidemic at this year’s annual MACo Summer Conference, “You’re Hired!”. During the session, Attacking the Opioid Epidemic: A Collaborative Approach, state and local government officials will discuss how a collaborative approach inspires all stakeholders—across the boundaries of criminal justice, public health, and human services—to act as a single, integrated community and point the way toward powerful new solutions. More details about the session are available in the registration brochure.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Attacking the Opioid Epidemic: A Collaborative Approach at #MACoCon

Heroin and opioid abuse has evolved into a major public health crisis in Maryland. From the Baltimore-Washington metro area to the rural Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, the epidemic is having an extensive impact on large and small counties alike. In an effort to address the scourge of heroin and opioid abuse in Maryland, state and local officials are emphasizing the importance of a collaborative approach. In a session exploring this issue, panelists will discuss how a collaborative approach inspires all stakeholders—across the boundaries of criminal justice, public health, and human services—to act as a single, integrated community and point the way toward powerful new solutions.

Attacking the Opioid Epidemic: A Collaborative Approach

The heroin and opioid epidemic has evolved into a major public health crisis in Maryland. From the Baltimore-Washington metro area to the rural Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, the epidemic is having an extensive impact on large and small counties alike. The crisis touches a plethora of government programs, impacting children and families, public safety professionals, educators, and health care providers. In this session, panelists will discuss how a collaborative approach inspires all stakeholders—across the boundaries of criminal justice, public health, and human services—to act as a single, integrated community and point the way toward powerful new solutions.

Speakers:

  • Clay B. Stamp, Executive Director, Opioid Operational Command Center (OCCC)
  • Kevin Aftung, President, Emergency Managers Affiliate, Maryland Association of Counties
  • Nancy Schrum, Director, Constituent Services, Anne Arundel County
  • Jeff Amoros, Director, Legislative Affairs, Baltimore City Health Department

Moderator: The Honorable Erek L. Barron, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Friday, August 18, 2017; 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Andrew Smarick Re-Elected State School Board President

The Maryland State Board of Education Thursday unanimously re-elected Andrew R. Smarick as president, and re-elected Chester Finn as vice president.

According the The Garrett County Republican,

Smarick is the Morgridge Fellow in Education at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He has been an education aide at the White House Domestic Policy Council and deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier in his career, he served as a legislative aide to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland and members of the Maryland General Assembly. He also served as deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education.

Smarick was a member of Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s Commission on Quality Education. He helped found a college-preparatory charter school and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and was a founding board member of 50CAN. A product of Maryland’s primary and secondary public schools, Smarick earned a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude and with honors, from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in public management from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. He lives in Stevensville with his wife and three children.

Dr. Finn his the Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He is also a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Finn served as Fordham’s President from 1997 to 2014, after many earlier roles in education, academe and government. From 1999 until 2002, he was John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and previously at Hudson Institute. In 1992-94, he served as founding partner and senior scholar with the Edison Project. He was professor of education and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University from 1981 until 2002.

From 1985 to 1988, he served as assistant secretary for Research and Improvement & Counselor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier positions include staff assistant to the president of the United States; special assistant to the governor of Massachusetts; counsel to the U.S. ambassador to India; research associate at the Brookings Institution; and legislative director for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

For more than 40 years, Finn has been in the forefront of the national debate about school reform. His participation in seminars, conferences, and hearings has taken him to colleges, education and civic groups, and government organizations throughout the world. He is the author or co-author of more than 20 books.

A native of Ohio, he holds an undergraduate degree in U.S. history, a master’s degree in social studies teaching, and a doctorate in education policy, all from Harvard University. Dr. Finn and his wife, Dr. Renu Virmani, a physician, have two grown children and three granddaughters. They live in Chevy Chase.

Read the full article for more information.

MACo’s Weekly County News & 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

Worcester Receives $38K from Education Foundation

The Worcester County Education Foundation this week donated $38,000 to aid the school system with technology expenses.

According to The Dispatch,

On Tuesday, Todd Ferrante, chairman of the Worcester County Education Foundation, presented a $38,000 check to the Worcester County Board of Education. The donation will provide funding for the purchase of laptop cases and covers as well as other technology related expenses.

“We certainly appreciate everything you do for our students of Worcester County,” said Steve Price, the school system’s chief operating officer.

In an update provided to the school board, Ferrante outlined the various ways the foundation has been working to support local students. Since it was established in 2014, members of the foundation have worked hard to collect funding to aid in the county’s digital conversion, which aims to provide every student with a mobile device.

“We’ve been very, very busy,” Ferrante said. “We can’t do it with just one person. We are a team.”

Ferrante said the foundation had accumulated $650,000 in money and pledges during the past three years.

The funding has already gone toward the school system’s digital conversion. A $35,000 donation last year enabled the school system to buy laptop cases. This year’s $38,000 donation will purchase 550 laptop cases and 200 covers for Chromebooks as well as a cart of iPads and a cart of Chromebooks.

The foundation has also provided grants to teachers. Six were awarded last year and nine were awarded this year.

Superintendent Lou Taylor praised the foundation’s efforts. He said because of the organization the school system was able to meet its technology needs now rather than later.

“This is not a funding organization that takes the place of our county, state or federal government funding,” he said. “They just help expedite our needs and get things done quicker.”

Read the full article for more information.

Wicomico Council to Review Animal Ordinances

The Wicomico County Council has agreed to review changes to the county’s animal ordinance proposed by the director of the local Humane Society and member of the county’s Animal Ordinance Committee. The recommendations are being proposed in an effort to improve animal rights and welfare.

As reported on Delmarva Now:

Aaron Balsamo, director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County, and members of the Animal Ordinance Committee presented the proposed revisions at Tuesday morning’s council meeting, saying the changes are needed.

“Some of our laws are very antiquated,” Balsamo said.

In March, Balsamo said in an email to county staff that areas he wants to see addressed by the committee are shelters, proper tethering of dogs and a prohibition of dogs left outside in extreme weather conditions.

The proposed changes follow the discovery last year of 310 dogs living in deplorable conditions at an Eden property.

The county’s Animal Ordinance Committee was first formed in 2007 after a Willards teenager was attacked by two dogs while riding his bike on New Hope Road. Jarritt Sybert, 14, received 40 puncture marks on his body from a pit bull mix and a German shepherd mix, according to a news report at the time.

From 2007 to 2008, the committee’s focus was on how to protect the public from dangerous dogs, but now it has shifted to how to protect animals.

For more information visit Delmarva Now.

Study Analyzes Usage and Disposal of Plastics

A Science Advances research article (2017-07-19) analyzed the global production, use, and final destination of plastics. The research article estimated that 8300 million metric tons (Mt) of primary or virgin plastic have been produced from the start of mass plastic productions post-World War II through 2015. Based on their data, the researchers estimate that 12,000 Mt of plastics will be in landfills or the natural environment by 2050. From the research article:

A world without plastics, or synthetic organic polymers, seems unimaginable today, yet their large-scale production and use only dates back to ~1950. Although the first synthetic plastics, such as Bakelite, appeared in the early 20th century, widespread use of plastics outside of the military did not occur until after World War II. The ensuing rapid growth in plastics production is extraordinary, surpassing most other man-made materials. Notable exceptions are materials that are used extensively in the construction sector, such as steel and cement.

Instead, plastics’ largest market is packaging, an application whose growth was accelerated by a global shift from reusable to single-use containers. As a result, the share of plastics in municipal solid waste (by mass) increased from less than 1% in 1960 to more than 10% by 2005 in middle- and high-income countries. At the same time, global solid waste generation, which is strongly correlated with gross national income per capita, has grown steadily over the past five decades. …

We estimate that 2500 Mt of plastics—or 30% of all plastics ever produced—are currently in use. Between 1950 and 2015, cumulative waste generation of primary and secondary (recycled) plastic waste amounted to 6300 Mt. Of this, approximately 800 Mt (12%) of plastics have been incinerated and 600 Mt (9%) have been recycled, only 10% of which have been recycled more than once. Around 4900 Mt—60% of all plastics ever produced—were discarded and are accumulating in landfills or in the natural environment….None of the mass-produced plastics biodegrade in any meaningful way; however, sunlight weakens the materials, causing fragmentation into particles known to reach millimeters or micrometers in size. Research into the environmental impacts of these “microplastics” in marine and freshwater environments has accelerated in recent years, but little is known about the impacts of plastic waste in land-based ecosystems.

The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material. The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications—durability and resistance to degradation—make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate. Thus, without a well-designed and tailor-made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet. The relative advantages and disadvantages of dematerialization, substitution, reuse, material recycling, waste-to-energy, and conversion technologies must be carefully considered to design the best solutions to the environmental challenges posed by the enormous and sustained global growth in plastics production and use. [Citations Omitted].

Source: Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made, Science Advances, Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700782 (July 19, 2017).

 A New York Times article (2017-07-19) offered further details on the study:

Roland Geyer, the lead author of the study, said, “My mantra is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and without good numbers, you don’t know if we have a real problem.”

The authors, who come from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Georgia and the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass., used plastic production data from a variety of sources to make their estimates. …

Dr. Geyer cautioned that recycling was not a cure-all for global plastic pollution. He said the sole benefit of recycling was to reduce the amount of new plastic being produced, adding, “We don’t understand very well the extent to which recycling reduces primary production.”

The features that have made plastic so important in the global market are the same ones that make it such a pervasive pollutant: durability and resistance to degradation.

Dr. Geyer said there was not enough information on what the long-term consequences of all this plastic and its disposal would be. “It accumulates so quickly now and it doesn’t biodegrade, so it just gets added to what’s already there.”

“Once we start looking, I think we’ll find all sorts of unintended consequences,” he added. “I’d be very surprised to find out that it is a purely aesthetic problem.”

Prince George’s Council Unanimously Passes Healthy Vending Machines Bill

The Prince George’s County Council unanimously passed a bill, sponsored by vice-chair Dannielle Glaros, that sets certain health related requirements on food and drink offerings within vending machines on county government property.

The Washington Post reports:

If signed by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), the measure would take effect 45 days later.

Prince George’s would be the fourth jurisdiction in Maryland to adopt measures mandating contracted companies to stock vending machines on government property with packaged food and drink choices that are low in fat, sodium and sugar.

Baltimore City, Howard and Montgomery counties have all implemented healthy vending policies in the last two years. The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission adopted a separate but similar policy in April for all the recreational and park facilities in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

The Prince George’s law requires that at least half the offerings in any vending machine meet healthy nutritional standards. Granola bars, trail mix and baked chips must be less than 200 calories per package and meet the federal “low-sodium” definition. Water, milk and juice must contain fewer than 40 calories per serving and real fruits or vegetables.

All of those products should cost as much or less than junk food, soda and candy that are sold from the machines, and must be arranged within the machine in places with the highest selling potential.

The article notes that the bill awaits the signature of County Executive Rushern Baker who has not formally taken a position on the measure. If signed the bill would go into effect after 45 days.

Read The Washington Post to learn more.

Hogan Administration Plans to Sue EPA Over Air Pollution From Other States

An Associated Press article (2017-07-20) reported that Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan has announced plans to sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the federal Clean Air Act over air pollution generated by power plants in neighboring states. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Hogan had requested that the EPA require certain coal plants in mid-western states to use pollution-control technology during the months of May through September. The Maryland Department of the Environment has estimated that nearly 70 percent of Maryland’s air pollution comes from “upwind” sources located outside of the state. From the article:

Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, notified the agency of the state’s plans in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“We need the EPA to step in to ensure that these power plants run their pollution controls on a daily basis,” Grumbles said in an interview. “We’re in discussions with the states. We need EPA to step in and help. We have the data, and it’s clear, and the pollution is coming from these power plants.”

Maryland petitioned the EPA in November for a finding that 36 power plant units in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are emitting air pollution affecting the state’s air quality in violation of the law known as the “good neighbor provision.” In January, the EPA issued a six-month extension to act, setting a July 15 deadline that has expired without required EPA action.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a conservation group, indicated it also planned to sue the EPA over the issue. The foundation noted that the state had forecast a Code Red Air Quality Alert on Thursday for Baltimore.

“We join and wholeheartedly support Maryland in its effort to protect the health of its residents and the Chesapeake Bay against upwind, out-of-state power plants which choose to make higher profits rather than turn on their pollution controls during hot summer months,” said Jon Mueller, vice president of litigation at the foundation.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Article on Hogan’s EPA Request