Rural Counties Coalition Starts the Day Early at 2017 #MACoCon

The MACo Rural Counties Coalition received an update on land use, economic development, and opioid issues on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Jeannie Haddawy-Riccio (far left) addresses the Coalition

Deputy Chief of Staff Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio provided a brief update on the priorities of Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan’s Administration, focusing on customer service. Haddaway-Riccio also introduced the Governor’s Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) team, including Intergovernmental Affairs Director Kristal Quarker Hartsfield, Eastern Shore IGA Representative Bunky Luffman, Western Maryland IGA Representative Mark Widmyer, and Southern Maryland IGA Representative Gretchen Hardman.

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp, Garrett County Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter, and Rural Maryland Council Executive Director Charlotte Davis provided an update on the activities of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission and its various rural workgroups. Knapp also provided an update on best available technology for nitrogen removal (BAT) septic system legislation.

Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill discussed jobs and economic development issues. “We have to get out there and make things happen,” Gill stressed. Gill’s updates included: (1) video lottery terminal revenue; and (2) arts districts and tourism activities. Gill also urged counties to invest in economic development staff and to focus on your economic priorities.

Department of Commerce Managing Director Steve Pennington discussed the More Jobs for Marylanders Act that passed during the 2017 Session.

Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine raised an issue about ambulance services going bankrupt due to lack of reimbursement from opioid victims. Valentine suggested the creation of a last resort State funding mechanism to reimburse ambulance services.

Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center Executive Director Clay Stamp discussed the State’s efforts to address the opioid crisis. Stamp urged counties to empower their emergency managers to use funding that is now being provided by the State and the federal government.

Calvert County Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt chaired the meeting.