2019 End of Session Wrap-Up: Government Liability & Courts

This post summarizes the status of various government liability and courts bills that MACo took a position on during the 2019 Regular Session. County governments enforce laws, employee residents, and maintain facilities throughout Maryland. These various roles may place county governments, much like their counterparts in the private sector, as defendants in court, litigating cases involving employment benefits, injuries sustained on county properties, or other subjects. MACo's advocacy in this area seeks to clarify the…

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Carroll County Retains Law Firm to Pursue Opioid Litigation

Carroll County joins the rank of others in Maryland and across the nation pursuing litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The County Commissioners voted unanimously to retain a law firm to file an action in state court. As reported by The Baltimore Sun: “We are in an absolute crisis. To me, this is the national emergency that we have to deal with,” said Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5. County Attorney Timothy Burke, who’s been directed…

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Purdue Pharma Settles Opioid Lawsuit with Oklahoma Attorney General

Purdue Pharma LLC, the maker of OxyContin, has reached a settlement with the Attorney General for Oklahoma over a lawsuit in which the state alleged that Purdue, as well as other opioid manufacturers, contributed to the deadly opioid crisis through deceptive marketing practices. It has not been confirmed whether the other defendants in the lawsuit will settle as well. Reuters reports: The settlement with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter came just weeks before Purdue, owned…

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Supreme Court Issues Decision on Excessive Property Forfeiture Seizures and Fines

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision last week holding that civil asset forfeiture at the state and local level must occur under the same constitutional protections against excessive fines as they do at the federal level. While decision does not prohibit civil asset forfeiture, it does mean that state and local governments may be open to more legal challenges in cases where assets are seized. As reported in Route Fifty: The decision in the…

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EPA Interstate Air Pollution Enforcement Challenged by Maryland & Others

A Bay Journal article (2019-02-11) reported that separate coalitions of environmental groups and East Coast states have launched legal challenges against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its lack of enforcement on interstate air pollution regarding power plant emissions. EPA has struggled to address the problems caused by interstate air pollution and recently declined several petitions to take action. Due to its location and weather patterns, Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay are particularly susceptible…

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Court of Appeals Agrees to Hear Solar Preemption Case

A Herald Mail-Media article (2019-02-06) reported that the Maryland Court of Appeals has agreed to review a lower court decision (Board of County Commissioners of Washington County v. Perennial Solar) which held that Public Service Commission (PSC) could preempt local zoning when approving a large-scale solar project (more than 2 megawatts). The specific contested project is 42,000-panel array that would occupy about 86 acres and generate 8-megawatts near Cearfoss Circle in Washington County. As previously reported on…

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2019 Legislative Handbook Series – An Indispensable Reference

The Department of Legislative Services has released its quadrennial Legislative Handbook Series, a deep and useful reference series that encapsulates nearly every issue of government at the state and local level. The series may be downloaded or viewed online for free at the links below: Legislative Handbook Series: Vol 1 – Legislators Handbook Vol 2 – Government Services Vol 3 – Revenue Structure Vol 4 – Budget Process Vol 5 – Personnel, Pensions & Procurement…

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#MACoCon Attendees Learn About Comparative Fault, Access to Justice, Local Preemption

Attendees to the MACo 2019 January Winter Conference learned about three key legal issues that will likely factor into upcoming Session, including: (1) local preemption; (2) access to justice/attorney fees; and (3) comparative fault. The panel, Legislation, Litigation & Legitimacy: Key Legal Issues for the 2019 Session, was held on Thursday, January 3. Montgomery County Attorney's Office Government Operations Division Chief Edward Lattner discussed the challenges counties have been having with the court doctrine of implied preemption…

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Experts Discuss Implications of Cannabis in the Workplace at #MACoCon
Albert (Bert) B. Randall, Jr., Esq. speaks at the MACo Winter Conference
Experts Discuss Implications of Cannabis in the Workplace at #MACoCon

The use of medical cannabis, now legal under State law, may create a gray area within county government personnel policies. Traditional health and safety polices – especially important for county government roles that involve operating utility equipment, supervising children, and protecting public safety – are not as clear with medical cannabis use. In addition, ADA compliance, requests for accommodation, and wrongful termination challenges are anticipated. At the MACo Winter Conference session, "When Green Fades to…

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Prince George’s Court Program Focuses on Reentry and Reducing Recidivism

An article in The Washington Post highlights Prince George's County Court Reentry Court Program. Started in 2013, the Re-Entry Court is one of only two such programs in the state. Through the three phase program individuals who have been convicted of crimes and incarcerated are released early under supervision and provided a range of treatment and support services -- substance use and mental health treatment, life skills and relationship building, education and job training --…

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