Ellicott City Perseveres Post-Flood, County Prepares for Future

A little over a year after a flood devastated Ellicott City, Howard County officials continue to build upon what they’ve learned and plan for the future disasters.

The Baltimore Sun reports on the process the county is taking and progress they are making, including updating the Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan to prepare for future floods:

[Mark] DeLuca [chief of the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Environmental Services] updated residents on the four projects currently underway to build retention facilities and conveyance improvements in the watershed. The projects are the first wave of 18 project recommendations from the county’s hydrology and hydraulic study, completed this spring.

County officials are also updating emergency operations and community recovery plans, and implementing recommendations for improvement.

While the emergency operations plan is the county’s strategy for utilizing its resources immediately following a disaster like the 2016 flood, [Ryan] Miller [Director of Emergency Management] said the recovery plan picks up where the emergency plan leaves off, and includes strategies for bringing the community back to a “normal” state.

The article notes that officials plan to have the emergency plan finalized in the next few months and the recovery plan by the end of the year. Both plans include about 700 improvements for future responses.

Read The Baltimore Sun for more information.

Learn more about the Ellicott City post-flood recovery efforts at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference session, We’ve Got Your Back: Counties Collaborate

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Montgomery Department of Liquor Control Wins National Award

The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (DLC) has received the 2017 National StateWays Best Practices Award for its Legislative Outreach Program. The award specifically recognizes the DLC for its efforts in reaching out to local and state leaders at last year’s Maryland Alcohol Forum.

According to a press release,

“We are very excited to have won this national award,” said Robert Dorfman, director of the DLC. “We are a national model for public safety and it remains one of our highest priorities.”

The forum, “Innovative Solutions to Keeping Communities Safe,” was geared to alcohol licensing administrators from counties around the state. The event highlighted alcohol licensing needs, which require legislative changes at the state level, and it educated attendees about the public safety benefits of alcohol regulation. The forum was funded by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA).

“Participants were involved in open discussions about the importance of alcohol regulation as it pertains to public health,” said Emily DeTitta, outreach manager for the DLC. “It was very positive. The event revealed common goals such as supporting the health and welfare of our residents and creating a safe and vibrant nightlife.”

Over the past few years, the number of alcohol-licensed businesses in Montgomery County has been the highest in County history, at nearly 1,100, which is second in the state behind Baltimore City.

Read the full press release for more information.

America’s Opioid Epidemic Has a $504 Billion Price Tag

The opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015—nearly 3 percent of the gross domestic product in that same year.

The United States is grappling with a widespread opioid epidemic. More than a thousand people a week die from opioid-related overdoses. The crisis has reached such a scale that, beyond the risks it poses to public health, it is becoming a drag on the national economy.

According to Route Fifty,

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers says the opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015.

The CEA estimate is more than six times higher than the most recent analysis that preceded it. The last time a study of the epidemic’s cost was examined, researchers found that the crisis had cost $79.9 billion. That study was carried out in 2016 and was based on 2013 data.

The CEA analysis is higher because, first, previous studies underestimated the economic cost of the loss of life from this epidemic, and second, those previous estimates did not account for the underreporting of opioid deaths.

The CEA analysis relied upon previous research which found that actual opioid-related death rates were 24 percent higher than what was being reported in official tallies. This underreporting is due in part to imprecise categories on death certificates and the difficulties associated with post-mortem toxicology screening.

Heroin and opioid deaths continue to skyrocket in Maryland and across the country. The crisis has been exacerbated by the deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

At the 2017 MACo Winter Conference, you can receive hands-on training on how to recognizing and responding to opioid overdose by administering naloxone as well as how to perform hands-only CPR. The “Learn to Save a Life” trainings, sponsored by the Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO), are being offered Wednesday, December 6 from 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm and Thursday, December 7 from 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm.

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Senator Cardin Holds Round Table with Maryland Business Leaders

Senator Ben Cardin discussed critical issues — taxes, healthcare, infrastructure — being debated in Congress that have are impacting Maryland’s business and residents at a round table held at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce on Friday, November 17.

Senator Cardin discusses taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation priorities and more at business round table.

Senator Cardin discusses taxes, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation priorities and more at business round table.The Senator emphasized his commitment to addressing key priorities for Maryland including:

  • FBI – working on finding a path forward for moving the FBI to Prince George’s County.
  • Protecting Federal and Military Installations in Maryland – ensuring they receive the resources and support they need. There was not a round of BRAC this year but one may be coming in another year or so.
  • CSX/Howard Street Tunnel – addressing the issues with the tunnel is essential to its long-term viability and talks continue with CSX financial officers and CEOs.

Q&A with the round table participants centered a lot on their frustrations with the state of the national health care laws and rising premiums, but also involved lengthy discussions on taxes, cyber security, and small business procurement issues.

 

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #5 – The Power of Partnership

MACo’s Winter Conference will focus on intergovernmental cooperation and ways that counties can partner with entities in the public and private sector to achieve the best results for Maryland’s residents. Sessions will highlight collaboration across county lines and service areas to address priorities like the opioid epidemic, Next Gen 9-1-1, and the environment, along with other important topics like mutual aid agreements and cooperative purchasing.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the MACo Winter Conference and its focus on reviewing timely issues that will be relevant during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session.

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Next-Generation 9-1-1: What It Means For County Coffers

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) issues are of top concern for county governments officials seeking to improve and enhance their handling of emergency calls from cell phone users. New technologies will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow traditional callers to text and send photo and video data directly to first responders.

As Maryland and its counties move toward implementing an NG911 network, one key issue that must be addressed is how to fill the void left by Verizon and its vast communication infrastructure. And, while the technology to implement NG911 is available now, there are many issues that local governments must work through, including uniform specifications, the process of transition, governance, and funding.

Learn about the budgetary and procurement impacts of this important issue  at the MACo Winter Conference special session, Next Gen 911: What It Means For Purchasers, PSAPs & Purse Strings.

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Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds co-chairs Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez at NG911 hearing July 2017.

Title: Next Gen 911: What It Means For Purchasers, PSAPs & Purse Strings

Description: As counties gear up to join the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) effort and upgrade their Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to adapt to the digital era and toss analog aside, basic questions abound for the buyers and budgeters. What exactly do we need to do? When do we need to do it? And, of course, how much will it cost? While the technology to implement NG911 exists now, so do many administrative issues, such as identifying uniform specifications, transition processes, governance terms, and funding. The Federal Communications Commission has estimated that it will cost $2.68 billion to implement NG911 nationally. Join this forum discussion with state and local experts to find out what NG911 means for Maryland counties’ purchasers, PSAPs, and purse strings.

Speakers:

Ross Coates, Harford County Government Public Safety Manager

Scott G. Roper, Executive Director, Emergency Number Systems Board, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

Walt Kaplan, MPH, Enterprise Client Manager, Mission Critical Partners, Inc.

Moderator: The Honorable Cheryl Kagan, Maryland State Senate

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 2017; 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm

The Conduit Street Podcast Is Back!

After a brief hiatus, the Conduit Street Podcast is back! In this episode, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss new developments in state and local education funding, federal tax reform, and Maryland’s state fiscal picture.

MACo has made the podcast available through iTunes by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

 

State Seeks Public Input on Chesapeake Bay Crossing

The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is hosting an online meeting about the Chesapeake Bay Tier I NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Crossing Study on Wednesday, November 15, between 7:00 and 7:30 pm.

According to a press release:

The purpose of the study is to identify the location of a new crossing and to explore potential financial options. The study is expected to be completed in late 2020.

The online meeting will include a presentation with an overview of the project, study area and proposed schedule. The MDTA is seeking public input on the project scope, purpose and need.

To join the online meeting on November 15 or to provide comment, individuals with Internet access may visit baycrossingstudy.com. They also may provide comment by email directly at info@baycrossingstudy.com. The presentation will remain on the website following the meeting for anyone to view at their convenience.

The initial comment period ends December 15, 2017. The MDTA will provide additional opportunities for public input throughout the study.

Governor Larry Hogan announced the study in August 2016. NEPA requires state and federal agencies to consider the environmental consequences of proposed projects as part of their decision-making.

Read the full press release for more information.

House Votes Today on Federal Budget Plan that Eliminates Local Tax Deduction

The National Association of Counties issues a call to action to ask Representatives to remove state and local tax deduction provision from budget plan.

From CNN,

The House of Representatives votes Thursday on a budget resolution that would allow Congress to fast-track a tax reform bill, a major legislative effort that Republicans are desperate to launch.

But frustration over a proposal to eliminate a popular tax deduction has some Republicans threatening to rally together and vote with Democrats in opposition to the budget.

The current tax reform framework calls for nixing the State and Local Tax deduction (SALT), a tax break used by nearly one-third of filers. Cutting the deduction would help Republicans raise more than a trillion dollars to help pay for tax cuts over 10 years, making it a huge source of revenue for their overall plan to reform the tax code.

But Republicans from states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California argue that their constituents rely on the deduction. While some are open to making changes to SALT — such as capping the income level at which taxpayers could use it — others don’t favor any kind of compromise and want tax writers to leave SALT completely alone.
“My solution is to take it off the table,” said Republican Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey.

According to the National Association of Counties, eliminating the state and local tax (SALT) deduction  makes local governments and home owners a major “pay for” in the forthcoming tax reform plan.

NACo has issued a call to action for county elected officials to preserve the State and Local Tax Deduction.

Maryland is among the most heavily affected states – with the highest share of taxpayers claiming the deduction. Analyses show that more than $1.3 million Maryland tax returns include the SALT deduction. Many middle-income Marylanders would feel a substantial tax increase under a plan that includes eliminating the SALT deduction.

From Jack Peterson, NACo Associate Legislative Director:

The vote on the House Resolution is expected to be very close because of the bad language on SALT—and a group of Republican lawmakers fighting to preserve SALT. In the next 24 hours, we ask that you to call your member of Congress and urge them to vote NO on the House Budget Resolution in order to FULLY PROTECT SALT.

You may use the following talking points when calling your member of Congress. To reach your lawmaker, dial (202) 224-3131 and ask to be connected to your member’s office.

KEY MESSAGES

I’m calling today to urge you to vote NO on the upcoming House Budget Resolution because the resolution explicitly targets the state and local tax deduction (SALT) as the major “pay for” in the upcoming tax reform fight.

  • By eliminating SALT, Congress would double tax residents on their income, shifting $1.3 trillion away from local communities and to the federal government. Furthermore, the Budget resolution sets a Double Standard because corporations would be able to continue fully deducting their state and local taxes, but individuals and families in our district could not.
  • Eliminating SALT hits home owners particularly hard – their taxes will go up while home values will go down. That is wrong and we need you to stand up for homeowners and other taxpayers in your Congressional District by voting NO on the budget resolution until there are assurances that SALT will be fully preserved.
  • Any change to SALT would harm vital services and infrastructure investments provided by state and local governments. Compromise proposals will not cover every resident in our district and state, and it will create a slippery slope that allows Congress to chip away at SALT in the future.

NACo is not asking lawmakers to vote ‘no’ on tax reform. NACo’s advocacy asks that Congress protects state and local control, local revenues, and local taxpayers as they move forward with budget discussions, and take the SALT deduction off the table.

You can view your county SALT profile from NACo here, and check out a zip-code calculator to determine impact on home owners in your zip code here.

For more information, feel free to reach out directly to Jack Peterson on NACo staff with any questions or responses you receive: jpeterson@naco.org.

Broadband Throughout The Land #MACoCon

In today’s world, internet connectivity is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity. Broadband is critical to the future of our economy, education, and safety. Many Marylanders have either limited or no access to broadband, creating a gap in the ability of some communities to participate in the global economy. In order to address the service gap, counties are employing new and innovative solutions. Attend this session to learn about the challenges and best practices associated with expanding broadband access in Maryland.

Broadband Throughout the Land

Description: Public-Private Partnership, or P3, has become a buzzword in recent years, especially when it comes to infrastructure – and for good reason. As Maryland counties look to expand the availability and adoption of robust, high-quality, affordable broadband services in their communities, P3s have taken center stage. This session will provide an overview of common broadband partnership models and identify several factors that communities should consider when developing a successful partnership – what to look for in a partner, methods to structure resourceful partnerships, and how to build effective relationships.

Speakers:

  • Mark E. Ripper, Director, Dept. of Technology Services, Carroll County
  • Victor Tervala, Chief Solicitor, General Counsel Division, Law Dept., Baltimore City
  • James D. McCormick Jr., CIO, Caroline County

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 6, 2017; 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

 

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference: