Fentanyl Continues to Kill; Locals Look to Feds for Help

The Maryland Department of Health recently released its annual report on unintentional drug and alcohol related intoxication deaths. The findings were distressing but perhaps unfortunately not surprising to those working on the ground and living in our communities — fentanyl deaths are up.

The Washington Post reports:

Maryland fatalities caused by fentanyl jumped 42 percent from 2016 to 2017 — from 1,119 to 1,594 — even as deaths related to heroin use declined, according to data released by the Maryland Department of Health on Thursday.

Health Secretary Robert R. Neall called the rising numbers “staggering,” noting that in the first three months of 2018 alone there were 500 fentanyl-related deaths in the state.

A breakdown shared by the The Baltimore Business Journal showed some of the geographic and demographic findings:

Garrett County had the fewest fentanyl-related deaths in 2017, with two. Every other county had three or more deaths, and most had more than 20. Baltimore City saw the highest number of fentanyl-related deaths, with 573.

Fentanyl-related deaths grew 27 percent among Marylanders under the age 25, grew 45 percent among 25-34-year-olds, 51 percent among 35-44-year-olds, 30 percent among 45-54-year-olds, and 54 percent among those older than 55. The 25-34 age group saw the highest number of fentanyl-related deaths in 2017, with 454.

According to The Baltimore Sun the Mayor and officials from Baltimore City — a jurisdiction that continues to be hard hit by the crisis — have met with congressional representatives Congressman Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to urge them to continue to try to push for federal legislation they sponsored (the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency Act) that would provide more funding and help to local communities to fight the epidemic.

Cummings and Warren, both Democrats, sought to use the forum — televised nationally by C-SPAN — to promote legislation that would provide $100 billion over 10 years for services to combat substance use disorders. The legislation is modeled after the Ryan White Act of 1990, which provided billions of federal dollars to combat the AIDS crisis.

“This is what we on the front lines have been asking for,” said Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, who moderated the panel.

The Sun article notes that the Act is held up in committee due to concerns with the price tag. As previously shared on Conduit Street, the act which was modeled after the 1990’s Ryan White Act, would provide $10 billion in annual federal funding to state and local government to tackle the opioid crisis.

For more information:

Unintentional Drug- and Alcohol- Related Intoxication Deaths in Maryland, Annual Report 2017 (Maryland Department of Health)

Fentanyl-related deaths continue ‘staggering’ rise in Maryland (The Washington Post)

Opioids continue to wreak havoc in Maryland — here’s who is dying and where (The Baltimore Business Journal)

Pugh, other city officials urge comprehensive U.S. help on ‘desperate’ opioid issues (The Baltimore Sun)

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Maryland Congressman Proposes Comprehensive Federal Opioid Crisis Funding

NACo Announces High Performance Leadership Academy

NACo’s new Leadership Academy is an online training to develop professional talent in your county staff

naco logo

The NACo High Performance Leadership Academy is an online 12-week program that will empower frontline county government professionals with the most fundamental leadership skills to deliver results for counties and communities.

Without traveling away from the county, participants will use an online, interactive learning platform to engage in live events, video sessions and breakout group discussions.

With a robust curriculum developed by the Professional Development Academy in a partnership with Fortune 1000 executives, public sector leaders, world-renowned academics and thought leaders, including General Colin Powell and Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, it focuses on five essential skills:

LEAD: Engage teams and stakeholders to foster positive climates and exceed common expectations
ORGANIZE: Plan, lead and execute organizational change more effectively and consistently
COLLABORATE: Establish alignment and strong partnerships through building stronger relationships
COMMUNICATE: Create clarity, confidence and community
DELIVER: Measure projects and processes to deliver results aligned with county and community priorities

A world-class faculty of prominent public, private and university sector leaders will deliver each course. All module content is guided by an expert moderator.

Who should participate?

The program is designed for county professionals — specifically entry- to mid-level county staff.

Each participant remains accountable for their training and progress through the direct involvement of their supervisor at the county. Supervisors are encouraged to meet with participants and review the program content as related to individual development plans. Supervisors also receive regular dashboard reports that outline the learning progress of the program participant.

What is the time commitment?

The program is built to accommodate busy work schedules without interfering with daily operational responsibilities. Participants must commit to spending about 3-5 hours per week engaged with the program to complete a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities along with a cohort of professional peers from other county governments as well as other public and private sector entities.

What is the cost?

The 12-week program typically costs $1,995 per enrollee; NACo secured a discounted rate for members at $1,495 per enrollee. For the first participant from each member county, NACo will provide a one-time stipend of $1,000 to subsidize the discounted rate, with a $495 matching contribution by the participant’s county employer. Counties may enroll additional participants at the discounted rate of $1,495 each.

Want to know more?

About the Academy
About the Curriculum

Brian Namey
NACo Director of Public Affairs
(202) 942-4220

NACo Launches Opioid Action Center; Releases New Video

Video highlights counties role in fighting the opioid epidemic; resource center shares updates and analysis of congressional actions.

NACo has launched an Opioid Epidemic Resource Center to provide counties with helpful and timely information regarding the opioid crisis. The site includes a legislative analysis and summary of the over 60+ House and Senate opioid bills introduced during the 115th Congress.

Watch NACo’s new video “The Opioid Epidemic: Counties on the Frontline to learn about the impacts of the epidemic on county governments and how counties are working to ensure the health and safety of their residents affected by the crisis.

For more information visit NACo’s Opioid Epidemic Resource Center.

MACo’s Summer Conference will include a session on how counties are dealing with substance exposed newborns as a result of changes to state and federal laws. The session, “Handle with Care: Substance Exposed Newborns,” is scheduled for 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm on Thursday, August 16, 2018.

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:

Conduit Street Podcast with Special Guest, Congressman Ruppersberger, at #MACoCon

MACo’s official podcast is coming to Summer Conference! In this session, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson will be joined by special guest, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, for a live recording of MACo’s Conduit Street Podcast.

Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger is serving his eighth term in the United States House of Representatives for the citizens of Maryland’s 2nd District. Maryland’s 2nd District includes parts of Baltimore City as well as Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard Counties.

Representative Ruppersberger, who served as MACo President in 1996 while in office as Baltimore County Executive, has served in public office for more than 30 years. He was elected to the Baltimore County Council in 1985 and again in 1989, chosen twice as council chairman. He was elected Baltimore County Executive in 1994 and 1998, and, under his leadership, the county was named one of the nation’s four best-managed counties by Governing Magazine.

Known as a consensus builder on Capitol Hill, Ruppersberger has led the fight to protect tax-exempt municipal bonds, the most important tool in the United States for financing state and local infrastructure including schools, hospitals, water, sewer facilities, public power utilities, roads, and mass transit.

In addition to the opportunity to participate in the podcast, attendees will learn about the benefits of podcasting, and explore the principles of podcasting – such as launching a show, audio editing, equipment, interview skills, and staying sustainable.

Conduit Street Podcast LIVE!

Description: MACo’s official podcast is coming to Summer Conference! In this session, MACo team members Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson will be joined by special guests for a live recording of MACo’s Conduit Street Podcast. In addition to the opportunity to participate in the podcast, attendees will learn about the benefits of podcasting, and explore the principles of podcasting – such as launching a show, audio editing, equipment, interview skills, and staying sustainable.

  • The Honorable C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Michael Sanderson, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Counties
  • Kevin Kinnally, Policy Associate, Maryland Association of Counties

Date/Time: Friday, August 17, 2018; 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

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

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

US House Passes Bill Restricting EPA From Enforcing Bay TMDL

Baltimore Sun article (2018-07-19) reported that the United States House of Representatives has passed a bill that would limit the ability of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from assessing penalties against those states that fail to meet their water pollution reduction goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The bill would still have to pass the Senate, which has already rejected a previous measure sent over by the House.

While considering a bill on budget appropriations for the EPA and Department of the Interior, Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte (Virginia) again proposed the prohibition as an amendment. According to the article, the amendment passed 213-202 with Maryland’s congressional delegation voting 7-0 against the amendment (Representative Steny Hoyer did not vote).

From the article:

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker called the amendment “shortsighted” and said it threatens progress at improving the bay’s health. …

The Senate did not approve a similar amendment the House adopted last year. Gov. Larry Hogan joined environmentalists in urging the upper chamber to reject the proposal in February, as it faced a deadline to fund the federal government.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage on Goodlatte EPA Restrictions


NACo Names New President: San Diego California Supervisor Greg Cox

San Diego California Supervisor Greg Cox has been sworn in as NACo’s President for the 2018-2019 term.

Elections were held on July 16, 2016 during NACo’s Annual Conference & Exposition’s in Davidson County/Nashville, Tennessee. Cox is joined on the NACo executive leadership team by First Vice President Mary Ann Borgeson, Douglas County, Nebraska commissioner; Second Vice President Gary Moore, Boone County, Kentucky judge/executive, and Immediate Past President Roy Charles Brooks, Tarrant County, Texas commissioner.

From left to right: Second Vice President Gary Moore, Boone County, Kentucky judge/executive; First Vice President Mary Ann Borgeson, Douglas County, Nebraska Commissioner; President Greg Cox, San Diego, California Supervisor; and Immediate Past President Roy Charles Brooks, Tarrant County, Texas commissioner. (photo source: NACo County News)

The NACo Annual Conference & Exposition draws a cross section of elected officials and county staff from across the country. Attendees help shape NACo’s federal policy agenda, network, and share best practices to help improve the lives of their residents and the efficiency of county government.

A delegation of county officials and staff represented Maryland at the annual conference by serving on NACo policy steering committees; attending educational sessions covering a wide range of topics including agriculture and rural affairs, transportation and infrastructure, health, justice and public safety, tax and finance, technology, resiliency, environment, energy, and land use; and by voting to shape the NACo leadership and federal policy agenda for the next year.

Follow NACo County News for more information.

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.

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.

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.

Feds Go Silent Following Airplane Noise Complaints

In response to two petitions filed by the State of Maryland against them regarding flight path issues, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cut off all communication with the DC Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable and the Maryland Aviation Administration.

The petitions, announced late June, seek judicial and administrative review over changes to flight paths which have resulted in many Marylanders agitated over added noise.

From the Attorney General’s release:

The first action is a petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) implementation changes to the approach flight path for Runway 19 at DCA. The second is an administrative petition, filed with the FAA, that requests a supplemental environmental assessment as well as revisions to area navigation routes and procedures for BWI. Attorney General Frosh noted that the FAA failed to conduct the necessary environmental reviews prior to implementing the new flight paths.

WBAL reports:

“If the government will routinely stop communicating with the citizens as soon as they petition the government, it seems something is wrong with that,” said Jesse Chancellor, vice chair of the roundtable. …

Chancellor described the noise as a highway in the sky.


Maryland Joins Three States In SALT Suit

Attorney General Brian Frosh has joined Maryland with Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in suing the federal government over capping the state and local tax (SALT) deduction through last year’s tax reform. The claim alleges that the new $10,000 SALT cap violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the 10th Amendment, which protects states’ rights, according to Governing.

From that coverage:

Calling the deduction cap an “unconstitutional assault” on state governance, the lawsuit accuses the federal government of meddling in state taxation and fiscal policies by making it more difficult for them, politically, to raise revenue if needed.

“The new cap disregards Congress’ hitherto unbroken respect for the states’ distinct and inviolable role in our federalist scheme,” the lawsuit says. “And, as many members of Congress transparently admitted, it deliberately seeks to compel certain states to reduce their public spending.”

In January, Governing interviewed tax law experts who opined that winning a lawsuit just like this would be very difficult.

The New York Times article expresses similar sentiments:

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, was dismissed as a long-shot political stunt by supporters of the new tax code, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is a practical act of self-defense against an adversarial federal government. …

When it comes to taxing Americans, “Congress can really do what it wants,” said Tax Foundation executive vice president Joseph Bishop-Henchman. “It’s really not much of a case.”

Attorney General Frosh stated:

Eliminating the SALT deduction will jack up taxes for more than half a million Marylanders. It is an attack on state sovereignty. It will reduce funding for local law enforcement and for construction of infrastructure statewide, and it will cripple our ability to educate our kids.

Helpful Links


Maryland Attorney General’s press release

Bethesda Magazine coverage

Governing coverage

New York Times coverage

Feds Must Show Effects of Unfunded Mandates If This Bill Passes Congress

The House of Representatives has passed the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (UMITA), but the Senate has yet to act. The National Association of Counties supports the legislation.

The National Association of Counties is urging US Senate action on legislation recently passed by the US House of Representatives that would increase transparency on federal unfunded mandates and their effect on State and County governments.

From NACo:

UMITA sets a variety of guidelines to further require federal agencies to analyze the effects of federal regulations on state and local governments. First, it would set specific standards for federal agency consultation with state and local governments when that agency is considering a new rule or regulation. UMITA would also require federal agencies to include consultation activities with state and local governments in annual compliance statements. Additionally, it allows the chair or ranking member of any standing or select congressional committee leadership to request a “lookback” of regulations to evaluate the financial impact of federal regulations.

According  to NACo, the U.S. Senate has not taken up the companion version of the UMITA bill. NACo encourages counties to ask their senators to support this legislation or similar bills.

For more information, see House passes bill enhancing transparency and coordination with local governments on unfunded mandates from the NACo blog.

The MACo Summer Conference will feature a federal policy update from Maryland’s US Senator Ben Cardin on Friday, August 17, 2018; 10:30 am – 11:30 am. In a town hall setting, Senator Cardin will give an update on legislation in the 115th Congress and speak with county elected officials about their top priorities.

Senator Cardin was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. He is a senior member of the Environment & Public Works Committee and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee and serves on the Senate Finance Committee.


Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: