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.

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.

Counties Seek Needle Exchanges to Reduce Harm, Protect Health

Counties across the state are looking towards local needle exchange services to help protect against the spread of infectious diseases and to help connect people suffering from addiction with education and treatment services.

From The Baltimore Sun:

The efforts are being lead locally and are at various stages of formation, but state officials are encouraging the programs and offering technical assistance and some funding, said Onyeka Anaedozie, deputy director of the Maryland Department of Health’s Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau.

“We’ve talked to leadership in the jurisdictions about the importance of having a standing syringe services program,” she said. “We want the efforts lead by the local jurisdictions.”

The counties in some stage of planning or at least consideration include Anne Arundel and Baltimore in the metro area, Frederick and Washington in Western Maryland, Dorchester on the Eastern Shore and Prince George’s near Washington, D.C. Baltimore City currently has the state’s only operating program, launched in 1994. It relies largely on mobile units, which provide services in 16 locations around the city 26 times a week.

The growing acceptance of needle exchange reflects changing attitudes toward the often controversial programs, which critics say use taxpayer dollars to promote drug use and cause drug users to congregate at exchange sites. While the Baltimore program has been around for years, the state passed legislation only last year allowing the programs to be established elsewhere around the state. The Republican-controlled Congress also passed a law early last year allowing federal funds to be used for needle exchange.

Needle programs in some Maryland counties could be up and running by year’s end or early next year and are expected to offer clean syringes to users, disease testing and counseling and referral for treatment for infections and substance abuse, Anaedozie said. Some drug users not yet ready for treatment could still get needles and perhaps a dose of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.

The counties have been working to get backing from local law enforcement and elected officials as well as neighborhoods and treatment communities — a requirement by the health officials in the state, which passed a law last year allowing expansion of needle exchanges around Maryland.

MACo supported the bill to expand needle exchange programs in 2016 with amendments to the “local option” authority. A MACo representative was added to the Syringe Services Program Standing Advisory Committee to help give local governments a voice in the oversight of the programs. The Advisory Committee, Chaired by Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Howard Haft, is charged with providing consultation to DHMH on regulations guiding implementation of Syringe Services Programs as well as providing technical assistance to programs on developing operating procedures, community outreach and education plans, and a protocol for linking program participants to substance-related disorder treatment and recovery services. MACo is represented on the Advisory Committee by Associate Director Natasha Mehu.

Read The Baltimore Sun for more information.

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

MACo Supports Drug Outreach Programs; Advocates for Local Option

Syringe Advisory Committee Commences Work

Federal Government Lifts Ban on Needle Exchange Funding

Howard County Takes Steps Towards First Detox Center

Howard County is exploring opening a residential detoxification center. Officials have taken the initial steps of securing money in the budget and forming a team to find a location for the center.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The county’s fiscal 2018 budget began on July 1, and with it came $250,000 to help fund a capital project to choose a location and begin the design process for the center, according to the approved Capital Budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

This is the first of several steps in the process to build the center; no time line for the center’s opening or budget for the facility itself have been set by the county, said Carl DeLorenzo, the administration’s director of policy and programs.

A team including officials from the county’s health department and the county executive’s office are working rapidly to find an appropriate location to serve the still-growing number of substance abusers in Howard County, said Carl DeLorenzo, the administration’s director of policy and programs. DeLorenzo is heading up the project alongside Howard County Health Officer Maura Rossman, with the goal of choosing a location for the center within the next year, DeLorenzo said.

“In Howard County we have not bent the curve on our opioid deaths and the number of folks overdosing,” Rossman said. “It is not going away.”

The gap in treatment grew even larger this year, after the county’s only outpatient clinic for those with substance abuse disorders who are Medicaid recipients or uninsured closed at the end of 2016.

Rossman said she wants to create a center that can offer the most intense form of treatment, inpatient detoxification, to residents. Detoxification is the process of transitioning from a state of intoxication to being “clean” and no longer presenting any symptoms related to a drug, said Andrew Angelino, chairman of the psychiatry department at Howard County General Hospital. The withdrawal process during detoxification from a drug is painful, and for opioid users, can include muscle cramps, diarrhea and other severe flu symptoms, Angelino said.

The center could also potentially provide services for the entire spectrum of treatment for substance abuse, including prevention and intervention, crisis stabilization, detoxification,recovery and treatment, but DeLorenzo said until the budget for the center itself is set, it’s difficult to know what will be available.

Read The Baltimore Sun to learn more.

MACo will be hosting a forum at our 2017 Summer Conference on the opioid crisis. The Opioid Forum: Combating the Crisis, will be moderated by  Clay Stamp, Executive Director of the Opioid Operational Command Center (OCCC) and held on Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 10:00 am – 11:15 am. 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:

No Vacancy: Revitalizing Vacant and Blighted Properties

Homes that have been abandoned can create a range of problems from blight to harmful nuisances for counties and their communities. But fear not! New and improved tools to reduce blight and revitalize communities will be discussed at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

NO VACANCY: Revitalizing Vacant and Blighted Properties

Description: Abandoned and vacant properties are often a source of blight, nuisance, and – in severe cases – danger for the communities surrounding them. Fortunately, new tools are on the horizon for county officials to get a handle on these problem properties. This session will begin with an overview of a 2016 summer study conducted by MACo, the Maryland Municipal League (MML), and the Community Development Network of Maryland outlining the specific challenges local governments face related to blighted, vacant, and abandoned properties. Attendees will learn about legislation recently passed by the General Assembly to help counties, as well as how to deploy those resources.

Speakers:

  • Odette Ramos, Executive Director, Community Development Network (CDN)
  • Cindy Smith, Grants Administrator, Dorchester County
  • Daniel S. Ehrenberg, Klein Hornig LLP
  • Meredith Mishaga, Director, Foreclosure Outreach, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR)

Moderator: The Honorable Marvin Holmes, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 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:

State Awarded $2.5M in HUD Housing Counseling Grants

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding $2.5M in housing counseling grants to Maryland.

According to ABC2 WMAR:

“This is a smart investment in helping families find and keep their homes,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Quite simply, knowledge is power.  We know that armed with the information they need, those who receive counseling services are far more successful in buying, renting or avoiding foreclosure.”

Organizations receiving the grants include the Arundel Community Development Service, Inc. in Annapolis, the Garwyn Oaks Northwest Housing Resource Center in Baltimore and the Harford County Housing Agency in Bel Air.

These organizations provide a range of services to homeowners and prospective homeowners including pre-purchase and foreclosure prevention assistance.

Maryland Ranks 5th in Nation for Home Flipping

The Washington Post reports on how Maryland and DC are bucking the trend on home flipping, which has been on the decline nationwide but is still going strong in these two jurisdictions.

Home flipping has slowed across the country, but it’s booming in the District and Maryland. The District had the highest number of home flips in the nation in the first quarter, according to data collected by ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data provider. Maryland ranked fifth.

For its purposes, ATTOM defines a home flip as a property that has sold for the second time within a 12-month period. It uses publicly recorded sales deed data from more than 950 counties across the nation.

Most of the flipping in Maryland occurred in Prince George’s County.

“Maryland is a little bit ahead of the game in clearing out their backlog compared to the District,” Blomquist said. “It’s in the lower-priced areas of Maryland that we’re seeing a lot of flipping.”

Baltimore city and Baltimore County came in just below Prince George’s County for the highest rate of home flips, but Baltimore city was where flippers made the most money. Baltimore had an average gross flipping return on investment of 106 percent. (ATTOM looks only at the difference between what the property cost to purchase and its sale price. It doesn’t include the cost of renovation.) The average return on investment for Maryland was 79.3 percent. The District had a 58.3 percent profit margin. The national average was 47.4 percent.

Read The Washington Post to learn more.

New Program for Men Transitioning Out of Government Services Launched

A new program is launching within Carroll County that aims to help young men transitioning out of foster care or the juvenile justice system and into independence. The program, Manasseh House, which will be housed at the Silver Oak Academy at least to start, plans to offer these young men with transitional housing and individualized case plans to help them get on their feet after leaving the support of the government-run programs.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Young men ages 18 to 21 accepted into Manasseh House — a fledgling nonprofit working in collaboration with the Carroll County-based Silver Oak Academy — will receive transitional housing and develop individualized plans to become self-sufficient by enrolling in college or the military or learning a trade.

They can stay in the program for up to two years, and while participating they must cook, clean, budget their expenses and provide community service.

Founder Gianna Talone-Sullivan said youths who leave government-run programs without family support are at risk of becoming homeless or ending up in jail. To start, the program will accept “one or two” young men graduating from Silver Oak, a private residential facility contracted by the state to educate and rehabilitate juvenile offenders, she said.

“When that ends, there is some uncertainty about what come next,” Talone-Sullivan said. “We want to make them independent. This is something to build their self-esteem and help them feel proud.”

Kevin McLeod, who runs Silver Oak, said the campus has the space and a structure to support Manasseh House. Declining to name one of the first young men to enroll in the new program, McLeod said Manasseh House will guide the youth on a path for success.

“He is a kid who is training to be a nurse — he wants to be a registered nurse — and has to have the ability in short order to take care of himself,” McLeod said. “He doesn’t have that home base to live in and save up and get the skills and then transition; he’s got to be able to do both.”

Read The Baltimore Sun to learn more.

Programs to help individuals get back on their feet and join the workforce will be discussed at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session, “Second Chance for Workplace Success: A Good Program is Good for Your County.” Read more in the brochure (www.mdcounties.org/SC17RegistrationBrochure))

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:

The ABCs of the ACA, AHCA, BCRA, and Health Care in Maryland at #MACoCon

The future of the American health care system is in flux.

On March 23, 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a significant regulatory overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system, was signed into law. The law was not without controversy and bumps on its road to implementation, but has been in place for the past seven years.  In May of this year, the United States House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which would repeal significant portions of the ACA and institute other regulatory reforms. Unsatisfied with the bill passed by the House, the United States Senate drafted its own healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) which has yet to be voted on.

What does this all mean for the American health care system? Where do these bills stand now? How do these bills impact Maryland and her counties? Attend the MACo Summer Conference session “The ABCs of the ACA, AHCA, BCRA, and Health Care in Maryland” to find out.

The ABCs of the ACA, AHCA, BCRA, and Health Care in Maryland

Description: Amid sweeping changes in recent years and with more changes pending, it can be hard to keep up on the state of the health care system in America. In this session, hear from national and local experts about the state of public health and the health care system, where things may end up, and what it means to Maryland counties.

Speakers:

  • Brian Bowden, Associate Legislative Director, Health, NACo
  • Georges C. Benjamin, MD., Executive Director, American Public Health Association
  • Kelly Knight, Esq., Vice President, Compliance Services, Benecon
  • Uma S. Ahluwalia, Acting Health Officer, Montgomery County

Moderator: The Honorable Eric Bromwell, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 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:

Governor Announces $22M to Combat Opioids, 80% Dedicated to Local Efforts

The Hogan-Rutherford Administration has announced $22 million in funding to address the opioid and heroin crisis gripping the state. The bulk of funding will go towards local jurisdictions and service providers to support and enhance their efforts.

As announced by the Governor’s Office:

Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center, Department of Health, and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention today announced more than $22 million to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic. Eighty percent will go to Maryland’s 24 local jurisdictions and service providers to fund prevention, enforcement, and treatment efforts throughout the state.

“Finding real solutions to the heroin and opioid crisis that is ravaging our communities is a top priority of our administration and a cause that myself and Lt. Governor Rutherford have been personally committed to since before we took office,” said Governor Hogan. “This new funding will make real differences in people’s lives as we work together to turn the tide in this deadly fight.”

The funding for Fiscal Year 2018 includes the first $10 million of Governor Larry Hogan’s $50 million commitment to address the crisis announced in March 2017, the first $10 million from the federal 21st Century Cures Act, and $2.1 million from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention.

“With this funding plan, Maryland reaffirms Governor Hogan’s commitment to helping equip our local communities as we work together to battle this epidemic throughout the state,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis Schrader. “For example, $2 million of the Cures Act funding is being committed to establish a 24-hour crisis center in Baltimore City.”

“Here in Maryland, we continue to face a crisis situation with the number of overdoses rising every day. I am confident that with these resources we are announcing today, we have a balanced approach to fighting this epidemic – and we are giving the majority of our resources to the local level where we have the greatest opportunity to save lives,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “It is important to note our successes will continue to be driven by the significant support and cooperation of our federal and state agencies and local coordinated teams, including key advocacy groups, supporting our important work to combat the opioid crisis.”

The announcement included a listing of programs that will receive enhanced funding in FY 2018.

Prevention

  • $4 million total distributed to local Opioid Intervention Teams (as noted in table below) for each jurisdiction to determine how best to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic, which may expand on current prevention, enforcement, and treatment efforts
  • $1.4 million for a public awareness campaign to reduce stigma, increase patient-physician communication, and educate Maryland’s school children on the dangers posed by opioids, as well as additional support for local jurisdictions’ prevention efforts
  • $700,000 to train community teams on overdose response and linking to treatment
  • $200,000 to pilot a program that creates school-based teams for early identification of the problems related to substance use disorders
  • $200,000 to distribute opioid information to health care facilities and providers that offer treatment for opioid use disorder

Enforcement

  • $1.25 million to add to existing efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations
  • $850,000 to continue heroin coordinator program, which helps to make the link between law enforcement and treatment
  • $450,000 to increase the Department of Health’s regulatory oversight of controlled dangerous substances

Treatment

  • $3.2 million to expand treatment beds statewide, as well as a tracking system – the Maryland Healthcare Commission will aid in expediting the certificate of need application process for treatment beds
  • $2.7 million to improve access to naloxone statewide
  • $2 million to establish a 24-hour crisis center in Baltimore City
  • $1.6 million to expand use of peer recovery support specialists
  • $1 million to expand Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to hospitals and parole, probation, and correctional facilities
  • $780,000 to increase access to medications that support recovery from substance use disorders
  • $183,000 to support the expansion of existing law enforcement assisted diversion programs
  • $143,000 to improve the statewide crisis hotline

Baltimore City was provided with funds to address critical concerns including dwindling supplies of naloxone kits.

Recognizing the immediate need for naloxone in Baltimore City, $750,000 will be provided to buy 10,000 units (20,000 doses) of the lifesaving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. The city will receive $830,429 in individual jurisdictional funding, $2 million to establish the crisis center requested by city leadership, as well as funding for localized treatment and enforcement initiatives. With the opportunity to apply for grants, Baltimore is eligible for approximately $6 million in funding. The 2016 annual report  released by the Maryland Department of Health found that of the 2,089 overdose deaths in Maryland last year, 694 occurred in Baltimore City.

And finally a jurisdictional breakdown of $4 million in funding for Local Opioid Intervention Teams.

FY 2018 Funding by Jurisdiction
Image Courtesy of the Governor’s Office

 

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Baltimore City Overdose Antidote Demand Outpacing Supply

Governor Declares State of Emergency, Announces New Funding to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Hogan Administration Launches New Web Portal to Provide Resources on Opioid Crisis

MACo’s Summer Conference will feature several sessions focusing on the opioid epidemic:

  • Naloxone training on Wednesday, August 16
  • Sponsor showcase session hosted by Aetna on Thursday, August 17: “Aetna’s Response to the Opioid Epidemic: A case study of health plan resource and response for the community”
  • Panel entitled, “Attacking the Opioid Epidemic: A Collaborative Approach” on Friday, August 18
  • Screening of the FBI documentary,  “Chasing the Dragon: Life of an Opiate Addict” on Saturday, August 19
  • Opioid Forum with representatives from the Governor’s emergency opioid task force on Saturday, August 19

Read more about these and other great MACo Summer Conference Sessions in our registration brochure.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: