Conduit Street Podcast: Maryland’s Opioid Crisis: Where Do We Go from Here?

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Michael Sanderson and Kevin Kinnally are joined by MACo’s Legislative Director, Natasha Mehu, to discuss Maryland’s opioid crisis. Listen in to learn how the heroin and opioid epidemic was born, innovative state and local efforts to battle heroin and opioid misuse and abuse, and the resources necessary to stem the crisis in Maryland.

Listen here:

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

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Do you or someone you know need help with heroin/opioid addiction? SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: GOCCP Awards Grants to Help Counties Track Opioid Activity

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Queen Anne’s, Talbot Go Purple to Fight Opioid Abuse

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Frederick to Sue Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors

Anne Arundel County Safe Stations

The Conduit Street Podcast is coming to Summer Conference! Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson will be joined by Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger for a live recording of the podcast. The session, “Conduit Street Podcast LIVE!” is scheduled for Friday, August 17, from 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Kent Could Have Sole Veto Authority If New Bay Bridge Span Were Located in Tolchester

Cecil Whig article (2018-08-03) reported that if the proposed new Chesapeake Bay crossing was located in Tolchester, Kent County could have sole veto power over the proposal. The revelation is the result of an interpretation by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General and is based on a 2013 law – § 4-407 of the Transportation Article. This section of the State code reads:

 (a)    This section applies to:
(1)    Caroline County;
(2)    Cecil County;
(3)    Dorchester County;
(4)    Kent County;
(5)    Queen Anne’s County;
(6)    Somerset County;
(7)    Talbot County;
(8)    Wicomico County; and
(9)    Worcester County.

(b)    A State agency, including the Maryland Transportation Authority, may not construct any toll road, toll highway, or toll bridge in the counties enumerated in this section without the express consent of a majority of the governments of the affected counties.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, if the new bridge span were located in Tolchester and was viewed as a toll bridge, then as the only affected county, Kent could theoretically veto the project. Legislation was proposed during the 2018 Session to repeal this section of the Code but the bill failed. The article included a portion of the written response by Assistant Attorney General David Stamper:

“(N)othing I have found in the legislative history suggests the General Assembly specifically contemplated the application of this provision to a toll bridge across the Bay. But the lack of any evidence in the legislative history on this specific point, or the suggestion that the General Assembly likely was focused primarily on infrastructure with a more significant presence on the Eastern Shore, cannot overcome the plain meaning of the statutory language, which expressly limits a State agency’s authority to construct a toll facility, including a toll bridge, in any of the nine Eastern Shore counties,” Stamper wrote. …

“In the final analysis, it is difficult to give conclusive guidance about the application of the statute in the abstract, without applying the statute to a specific proposed toll project,” Stamper wrote. “While I hope this letter is responsive to your questions, it is not an official opinion of the Attorney General.”

While not an official opinion of the Attorney General’s office, Stamper’s interpretation tracks the plain language of § 4-407 and seems likely to be upheld if the statutory language was actually put to the test. The article noted that both the Commissioners and county residents have expressed opposition to a new Bay Bridge span being located in Tolchester.

The article also discussed the ongoing wildlife specialist vacancy at the 2,000-acre Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, which could prompt the closure of the facility to the public. Maryland Delegate Steve Arentz has submitted a letter to the regional chief of the National Wildlife Service calling the refuge “a national treasure” and urging that the position be filled.

Maryland’s Military Takes “All Hands” Approach to Cybersecurity

Several branches of the Maryland Military Department are working together on cybersecurity simulators and demonstrations to improve the security of critical infrastructure.

The Maryland Military Department’s work on cyber issues is a partnership between representatives of the MD Air National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force. Together, these divisions have developed simulations of SCADA systems under cyber attack. SCADA systems may be used in critical infrastructure, such as water systems and 9-1-1 Call Centers.

Screenshot 2018-08-06 10.45.53
Click for video coverage from WBALTV

As reported by WBAL TV, Maryland’s Air National Guard’s cyber capabilities are growing:

Two new Air National Guard units have been activated in Maryland. At full strength, the units will employ more than 300 full-time and traditional airmen, focusing on federal and state missions. The Maryland Air National Guard’s new 175th Cyber Operations Group is one of only two Cyber Operations Groups in the Air National Guard.

For more, see WBALTV, Md. Air National Guard cyber security units activated

Daniel Molina, Commander, 275th Operations Support Squadron, and Colin Patrick, Branch Chief, Information Systems are both members of the cyber project and also handle cyber-related duties for their respective divisions.

Lt Col Molina’s squadron is part of the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group, 175th Wing in Baltimore Maryland. He is responsible for synchronizing operations and preparing combat- ready cyberspace forces to conduct global operations in support of Air Force, Joint Task Forces, and Combatant Commands.

Colin Patrick, Branch Chief, Information Systems is part of the Maryland Defense Force. First Lieutenant Colin Patrick is responsible for network engineering, help desk management and voice-over-IP systems at Maryland Defense Force Headquarters. Currently, Lieutenant Patrick is a Senior Network Engineer for the Defense Information Systems Agency in the Mobility division, which provides smartphones capable of operating on government networks at multiple security levels.

For more information, join us for the MACo Summer Conference Session, All Hands On Deck: Cybersecurity for County Governments. In this session, speakers will share a demonstration of what happens during a cyber-attack and provide advice for counties on securing personal information and critical infrastructure including public water and wastewater systems, transportation, and energy systems.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

The Buildup to Maryland’s New School Construction Structure

The Interagency Commission on School Construction, created by law this year, will have enhanced powers with regard to the State’s capital funding for K-12 school building projects.

The 21st Century School Facilities Act of 2018 contained many provisions relating to specific elements of the State’s school construction program, and dealt with topics including energy efficiency, alternative financing, and prevailing wage laws.

It also contained language that re-ordered the State’s own structure for distributing its $300+ million annual appropriation for local K-12 construction projects. This controversial element of the legislation, which became law through a legislative override of the Governor’s veto, created a new body call the Interagency Commission on School Construction.

The Commission includes several appointees from the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, and, much like its predecessor, the Interagency Committee on School Construction, it includes members of the Governor’s Administration including representatives of the Departments of Planning and General Services.

The Commission will have enhanced responsibility for school construction funding, as compared with the Committee that preceded it. The Interagency Commission is an independent commission that functions within the Department of Education. The Commission’s purpose is to develop and approves policies, procedures, and regulations on state school construction allocations to local jurisdictions in an independent and merit-based manner. For more information, see the legislation that created the Commission.

Here is the list of members of the Commission and upcoming meetings dates, according to the Public School Construction Program’s website,

Members – Interagency Commission on School Construction 

  • Karen Salmon, Superintendent of Schools, Chairperson
  • Robert S. McCord, Acting Secretary of Department of Planning; Member
  • Ellington Churchill, Secretary of Department of General Services; Member
  • Barbara Hoffman, Appointee of the President of the Senate
  • Gloria Lawlah, Appointee of the President of the Senate
  • VACANT, Appointee of the Speaker of the House
  • Brian Gibbons, Appointee of the Speaker of the House
  • Denise Avara, Appointee of the Governor
  • Michael Lombardo, Appointee of the Governor

The chair of the Commission will be selected jointly by the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Delegates.

Meeting Information – Interagency Commission on School Construction

All IAC meetings will be held at the Maryland State Department of Education Headquarters, 200 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.

This additional information on upcoming meeting dates is provided by the Public School Construction Program:

  • Aug. 30, 2018, 9 am – noon, 7th Floor – State Board Room (Livestream)
  • Sep 12, 2018, 9 am – noon, Room TBD
  • Nov 15, 2018, 9 am – noon, Room TBD
  • Dec 11, 2018, Time TBD, Room TBD

Different, Better, Faster, More…Do UAS Taking Flight in Maryland Demand Changes to Law?

A Work Group reviews the types and applications of UAS (commonly called drones) in Maryland while considering any needed changes to State law for the technology and its use by members of the public.

The Unmanned Aerial Systems Work Group met this week at the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, hearing two presentations. The first presentation was from Rodney Likin, Special Operations with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Rodney shared a detailed and gripping account of the interception of a plat to fly contraband into a maximum security prison in Western Maryland via drone.

drones1
This large unmanned aerial system (UAS) can fly at speeds of up to 80 mph.

The second presentation was by Detective Charles Russell, Prince George’s County Police Department, who showed and described to the UAS Work Group a range of unmanned aerial systems (commonly called drones) and their capabilities.

drones
The UAS Work Group saw UAS of various shapes, sizes, and capabilities at its recent meeting.

The Work Group, which includes MACo and county representation, must produce a report for the Governor and General Assembly on revisions to law needed to confront expanding use of UAS.

At this meeting and in previous meetings, the Work Group discussed:

  • Law Enforcement education needed to help in identifying and reporting incidents of misuse of unmanned aerial systems (UAS)
  • State and local coordination with the FAA and the limitations of federal and state enforcement capabilities
  • Whether there may be changes needed to definitions of trespass or nuisance to accommodate UAS
  • Whether there may be a need to protect those who stop UAS intruding on their property from liability for costs of damages to the UAS
  • Whether to change definitions of critical infrastructure in State code, and consider the applicability of FAA regulations to all critical infrastructure in Maryland, and to maintain local authority over the definition of critical infrastructure.
  • Recent legislation passed in Virginia on UAS

For more information, see MACo Explores Government Applications for DronesIncidents of Unsafe Use of Drones Will Shape Report & Recommendations.

MACo Submits Amicus Brief on Montgomery Pesticide Ban Appeal

MACo and the Maryland Municipal League have jointly submitted an amicus curiae brief (2018-06-21) to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in a Montgomery County case involving a local ban on the use of lawn-care pesticides. The issues raised by the case concern local government autonomy and preemption.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Montgomery County Council passed a ban on the use of EPA-registered lawn-care pesticides for public and private property. The ban  covered areas such as lawns, playgrounds, recreation areas, and child  care centers but exempted agricultural usage. The ban also contained exceptions for treating noxious or invasive weed species, addressing human health concerns, or preventing significant economic damage.

In response, Complete Lawn Care and other several other businesses and county residents filed suit in Maryland Circuit Court challenging the ban. Circuit Court Judge Terrence McGann issued a decision on August 3, 2017, finding that state law preempted the Montgomery County ordinance. From Judge McGann’s opinion:

By generally banning the use of registered pesticides, the Ordinance prohibits and frustrates activity that is intended to be permitted by State law. The County’s Ordinance flouts decades of State primacy in ensuring safe and proper pesticide use, undermines the State’s system of comprehensive and uniform product approval and regulation, and prohibits products and conduct that have been affirmatively approved and licensed by the State.

The County appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. MACo and MML, concerned about the broader local preemption issues posed by the holding, submitted an amicus brief to the Court of Special Appeals on June 21, 2018. The brief argued that local governments should not be preempted in enacting public health and safety measures that go beyond state minimums.  From the amicus brief:

The [circuit court’s ruling] gives insufficient deference to Maryland’s longstanding recognition of concurrent State-local authority, and its reluctance to preempt local safeguards that augment State health and safety protections.

In finding Montgomery County Bill 52-14 (“the Ordinance”) preempted, the circuit court failed to fully credit the latitude Maryland long has afforded local legislation that provides residents with additional health and welfare safeguards above and beyond those of State law. A proper respect for the role of county and municipal authority, asserted by the People over themselves through this amici and their constituent members, requires reversal of the court’s preemption ruling.

Useful Links

Circuit Court Decision – Complete Law Care v. Montgomery County (2017)

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Montgomery Pesticide Ban

White House Releases Government Reform Proposal

On Thursday, the White House released a 132-page report detailing specific opportunities for reform of the Federal government. The comprehensive report lists 32 recommendations for organizational realignments, reassignments, consolidations, privatization of certain government services, disposition of government-owned assets, technology upgrades, customer service improvements, process reform, and more.

The report contends to address the federal government’s inefficiencies. It does not make recommendations for reducing the federal workforce – another goal put forth by the Administration.

The federal government is bloated, opaque, bureaucratic and inefficient.

– Mick Mulvaney, Director, White House Office of Management and Budget

silhouettes-81830_1920The report, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations,”  comes out as most of the country focuses on immigration policy and reform. In fact, it appears few news outlets have picked up the report release at all.

But, Route Fifty did – with focus given to potential affects on local governments

One noteworthy change would shift the $3 billion community development block grant program, or CDBG, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to a new Bureau of Economic Growth under the Department of Commerce. …

The reorganization plan would also move the federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, out of the Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Health and Human Services, which would then be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

Other noteworthy recommendations include:

  • Merging the Departments of Education and Labor into one Department of Education and the Workforce
  • Moving the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works out of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • Reorganizing the Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection
    Service and the food safety functions of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into a single agency within USDA
  • Merging the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) National Marine Fisheries Service with DOI’s Fish and Wildlife Service, centralizing dam permit review
  • Selling specific transmission assets owned by the Department of Energy (DOE), and generally, focus on disposing unneeded or undesired federal real estate
  • Either wholly restructure the postal system or privatize it altogether
  • Reorganize the Department of Transportation
  • Limit federal support for home purchasing:

….ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reducing their role in the housing market, and providing an explicit, limited Federal backstop that is on-budget and apart from the Federal support for low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

Read the full report here.

 

Conduit Street Podcast: SCOTUS Sounds Off, Early Voting Boom, Riveting Races, & More!

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the surge in early voting numbers in this year’s primary election, explore the role of county governments in state and local elections, examine the impacts of three major Supreme Court decisions, review MACo’s Legislative Initiatives process, and look ahead to the 2018 MACo Summer Conference.

*Note: We’ll be back next week with a special edition of the Conduit Street Podcast to breakdown the results of the primary election.

Listen here:

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

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: SCOTUS Opens Door To State Taxation of Internet, “Remote” Sales

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: SCOTUS Sides With Lower Court In Maryland “Gerrymandering” Case, But Questions Remain

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Early Voting Numbers Up 53% from 2014

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Soliciting 2019 Legislative Initiative Proposals

State Launches “Know Your Zone” Hurricane Preparedness Campaign

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in partnership with local emergency managers, is rolling out a new hurricane and severe weather evacuation system designed to ease evacuation in areas subject to tidal floods and storm surge. The evacuation plan is the result of the Maryland hurricane evacuation study, which concluded earlier this year.

According to a press release:

The study identified 3 large areas in Maryland subject to tidal flooding. Know Your Zone aims to bring awareness of the evacuation zones to the forefront of Marylanders’ summer plans and make evacuation notices easier to disseminate.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released its forecast for the upcoming season and predicted near- to above-normal activity. However, it only takes one storm hitting the mid-Atlantic area to seriously affect Maryland.

The first year of the program will encourage Maryland residents to know the evacuation zone of their residence, business or vacation site. The zones are designated by letters A, B and C.

Zone A areas are the most likely to be impacted by severe flooding in the event of a major storm or hurricane. In future years, the program will focus on refining evacuation routes away from the affected areas. “Proper and timely messaging for evacuations saves lives,” said MEMA Executive Director Russ Strickland. “This new system is designed to make it easier for local emergency managers to evacuate areas by encouraging Marylanders to Know Your Zone before a storm hits.”

The three evacuation zones only affect areas subject to tidal flooding or storm surge – communities at or near the Atlantic Ocean, the Coastal Bays, and the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. That covers 16 Maryland counties along with Annapolis, Baltimore City and Ocean City.

“Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a wake-up call for the mid-Atlantic region; it could have been Maryland,” said Strickland. “Working with local and federal partners, and using technology that until recently was not available, we studied updated flooding and surge patterns caused by more powerful storms to develop these new evacuation plans.”

If local officials feel an evacuation is needed to protect lives, they will issue the order by zones instead of having to define specific geographic areas. This program is similar to one rolled out last year in neighboring Virginia.

Read the full press release for more information.

MACo Partners with State & Local Boards of Elections to Improve Election Security

The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) is pleased to announce a partnership with the State Board of Elections (SBE) and Local Boards of Elections (LBEs) to maintain the integrity of state and local election systems and data. Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years.

MACo’s Information Technology Affiliate, SBE, and LBEs will hold a conference call later this week to identify steps that can be taken to enhance security for the upcoming Primary Election. This collaborative effort will promote best practices and information sharing to protect the systems and data we use to conduct elections.

Federal officials warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. Although United States Department of Homeland Security notified Maryland that is was one of 21 states with suspicious online activities before the election, there’s no evidence that Maryland’s election systems or voter data were breached or compromised.

While it is likely that this working group will discuss technical matters, Election Directors, Deputy Directors, County Information Technology staff, and LBE Information Technology staff are invited to participate in the kick-off conference call. Contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo for more information.