Hogan Hunts Down Human Traffickers and Violent Criminals Through New Initiatives

Governor Hogan has announced a package of initiatives targeting human trafficking in Maryland. The initiatives combat the issue through a variety of angles including increased funding, improved coordination and collaboration, and harsher punishments.

As announced in a press release:

“As governor, I am committed to ensuring that not only are the violent perpetrators brought to justice, but that we also provide the resources necessary to help survivors recover and rebuild their lives,” said Governor Hogan. “One of our most important responsibilities is to protect Maryland citizens, and human trafficking strikes at the very fiber of our Maryland communities, our families, and our children.”

The comprehensive package of anti-human trafficking initiatives includes:

  • An executive order creating a statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Director
  • $500,000 grant to the University of Maryland to help create a Maryland Crime Research and Innovation Center
  • $5 million to provide direct services to human trafficking victims
  • Plans to reintroduce the Felony Human Trafficking Act which will classify human trafficking as a felony

Additionally, the Governor announced more than $4 million in funding for the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network (MCIN) which will grant 13 counties to target gangs and violent criminal networks. Through MCIN, GOCCP will also be piloting a project with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Baltimore Police Department, the Prince George’s County Police Department, and the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center to improve real-time collaboration and information sharing between state agencies and their efforts to combat human trafficking.

For more information:

Governor Larry Hogan Announces Initiatives To Combat Human Trafficking (Office of the Governor Press Release)

Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force

Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) – Human Trafficking Resources

National Human Trafficking Hotline – Maryland


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:

Anne Arundel Announces Community Beach Cleanup Initiative

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh today announced the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works (DPW) will assist in cleaning up debris off communities beaches resulting from the recent incident at the Conowingo Dam.

According to a press release:

“Now is a time for our County to work together as we begin the cleanup from July’s heavy rainfalls,” said Schuh. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our communities to come together and return our beaches to usable condition.”

The Department of Public Works will lead this program and has identified highly impacted communities for this effort.

The staging of dumpsters will be offered to these communities along their private, bayfront beaches for several days. Debris loading would be the community’s responsibility. The Department of Public Works will retrieve dumpsters for disposal following cleanup activities
Communities would not be charged for recycling or disposal of collected debris.

Communities with private, bayfront beaches can request an assessment from the Department of Public Works by calling 410-222-7321 or emailing pwcust00@aacounty.org.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Heavy Rainfalls Send Debris, Sediment Plume Through Conowingo Dam

Conduit Street Podcast: What’s up with the Bay? SALT Suit, & Recruiting Top-Tier Teachers

From ruptured water mains to natural floods, counties must work with local water agencies to ensure that comprehensive crisis management plans are in place to address emergencies quickly and efficiently.

This year’s MACo Summer Conference will feature a session on comprehensive crisis management. The session, “Batten Down the Hatches! Weathering a Water Crisis,” 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:

Maryland Wildfire Crew Heads to Northern Rockies

Maryland has assembled and mobilized its second crew of wildland firefighters to battle raging wildfires in the Western United States, as part of a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:

Maryland State (MDS) #2 has been dispatched to battle the Tenmile Fire, which is burning about 372 acres (zero percent contained) in the Kootenai National Forest in Northwest Montana.

The 20-person crew arrived yesterday in Missoula, Montana.

MDS #2 consists of seven representatives from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, including employees from the Maryland Forest ServiceMaryland Park Service and Wildlife and Heritage Service. They join an additional 160 people assigned to the Tenmile Fire for a 14-day tour.

Maryland has participated in mobilizing certified, equipped and fully-trained wildland firefighters since 1974.

Read the full press release for more information.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About…

…tax liens!

Learn it, right here in Maryland, this fall!

The National Tax Lien Association (NTLA) is holding its annual conference for tax collectors, lien purchasers, and mere lien aficionados at the The Gaylord Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor on Wednesday, October 24 and Thursday, October 25, 2018.

And, since this target audience likely minds their wallets, there is an early bird discount for those who register before the end of August.

Click here to register.

Not yet a tax lien aficionado, but would like to be? NTLA hosts its National Tax Lien Association Academy right before the conference gets into gear, on Monday, October 22 and Tuesday, October 23, also at National Harbor. ntla

Click here to learn everything you ever wanted to know about tax sales and tax lien investing.

NTLA was founded in 1997 as a non-profit professional trade organization for the tax lien industry. It represents investors, lenders, service providers, and government officials in regards to tax lien sales, as well as promoting the benefit of those sales as reliable income for county budgets. NTLA provides networking and training opportunities for professionals and novices in the tax lien and tax sale industry.

The process used by counties to collect overdue taxes by sending properties to tax sale has received a lot of attention in the General Assembly of late – particularly as it relates to collection of overdue water bills. The flurry of legislative activity followed the completion of the report of the Task Force to Study Tax Sales in Maryland. Brad Westover, NLTA Executive Director participated actively as a member the task force: providing input that, especially when compared to those in other states, Maryland counties already get this right.

State Proposes Volkswagen Remediation Spending Plan, $12M for Counties

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has a plan to spend an additional $76 million on specific projects to reduce diesel emissions from the transportation sector – and it plans to make about $12 million of those funds available to counties.

In 2015, the federal government found Volkswagen AG liable for violations of the Clean cars and air pollutionAir Act, because from 2009 to 2016, the company sold diesel vehicles with devices installed that allowed for illegal amounts of nitrogen oxide emissions. The resulting settlement agreement with the automobile manufacturer created the Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund, which includes $2.7 billion earmarked for projects that remediate excess nitrogen oxide emissions from the air.

Maryland is eligible to receive about $75.7 million of that money – but first it must complete and have approved a plan for how it will allocate the funds. After consulting with the Maryland Departments of Energy and Transportation, MDE released its draft plan this week outlining how it plans to spend the money.

The draft includes spending 15.8 percent of the funds – about $12 million – on projects proposed by local governments and communities:

Local Governments and Communities and Environmental Justice (15.8%): Local governments and communities will be given a chance to submit project ideas for funding. Funding will be awarded on a competitive basis based on the primary goals of this spending plan. Proposals from highly affected communities (communities with heightened levels of ground-level ozone) will be weighted. A portion of the funds will be set aside specifically for transit bus and school bus replacements.

MDE will be accepting comments on the proposed Mitigation Plan until close of business on August 31, 2018. Comments can be emailed to mde.vw@maryland.gov.

MDE is also already accepting proposals from counties and others for eligible mitigation projects that can potentially be incorporated into future versions of Maryland’s Mitigation Plan. Those wishing to propose a project for inclusion in the plan may complete and submit this form by close of business on December 31, 2018.

Those sending comments or proposals by mail may use this address:

Mobile Sources Control Program
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Blvd. Ste. 705
Baltimore, MD 21230

Helpful Links

How Technology Is Helping to Reduce Traffic Congestion & Improve Mobility

The Cobb County Department of Transportation recently announced a data-sharing partnership with Waze, the free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app powered by the world’s largest community of drivers. Designed as a free, two-way data share of publicly-available traffic information, the Waze Connected Citizens Program promotes greater efficiency, deeper insights, and safer roads for Cobb residents, along with more than 100 other partners around the world.

Launched in October 2014 with 10 city partners, the program has expanded to more than 100 partners including city, state, and country government agencies, nonprofits and first responders. The goals of the program are to reduce congestion, increase the efficiency of incident response, and make data-driven infrastructure decisions.

Waze provides real-time, anonymous, proprietary incident and slow-down information directly from the source: drivers themselves. Partners provide real-time and advanced information about government-reported construction, crash and road closure data.

According to Route Fifty:

The county has spent the last two years integrating its urban traffic control system with geographic information systems, having previously used GIS in operations like water quality assessments.

The Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System, or SCATS, can already change traffic signals automatically using cameras that monitor how many cars are queued at lights.

By joining Waze’s Connected Citizens Program, the county is improving its three-year-old Cobb Commute app notifying drivers of traffic speeds with more actionable insights. The county sends its road construction data to Waze and is piloting a dashboard showing road conditions and reported crashes at its Traffic Management Center.

A GIS-enabled traffic platform can also provide previous crash data, as well as identify problem areas on roads. This means counties can get strategic with how they spend money to make improvements.

To learn more about new technology driving new policy, listen to the most recent episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast.

Useful Links

This Georgia County Integrated GIS With Its Transportation System to Improve Mobility

Waze Connected Citizens Program

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Conduit Street Podcast: New Tech Driving New Policy – Part One

One of the hot topics in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session was Next Generation 9-1-1 technology. MACo’s Summer Conference Session, “Calibrating the Compass: GIS in a Next Gen 9-1-1 World,” will discuss how GIS data comes into play and what counties and others need to know as we move forward. The session is scheduled for Saturday, August 18, from 10:15 am – 11:15 am.

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:

Judge Adkins Announces Retirement From Court of Appeals

Judge Sally Adkins (Source: Maryland Manual Online)

A Daily Record article (2018-07-30, subscriber access only) reported that Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Sally Adkins has announced she will retire on October 31, leaving a vacancy on the seven-member court. Adkins represents the 1st Appellate Judicial Circuit and her replacement must be a judge or attorney living on the Eastern Shore. Adkins, who is 68, announced her retirement prior to reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

A native of Salisbury, Maryland, Adkins graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 1975. After interning under Court of Appeals Judge Marvin Smith, Adkins spent roughly 20 years in private practice before becoming a Wicomico County Circuit Court Judge in 1996. Adkins was appointed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in 1998 and former Governor Martin O’Malley appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 2008. Adkins has also served as the President of the Wicomico County Bar Association and the Eastern Shore Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland.

From the article:

“In a year and four months, they’re going to kick me out,” said Adkins, 68, who has served on the state’s top court since June 25, 2008. “No reason to wait until I get kicked out.”

But Adkins said she will miss being a judge, particularly “being a part of the discussion and the debate and writing about the cutting-edge legal issues” that come before the high court.

The article stated that the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission will be accepting applications for the vacancy through August 22. The Commission will then review submissions in mid-October and then send a list of recommended candidates to Governor Larry Hogan. While Hogan is not required to nominate a candidate from the Commission’s list, that has been the standard practice for decades. Hogan’s nomination could immediately take their seat on the Court of Appeals but would be subject to a final confirmation process by the Maryland Senate in January, 2019.

Adkins plans to keep busy by traveling, doing charity work, and becoming a mediator.

Useful Links

Judge Sally Adkins Web Page

MSDE Awards $7.5M for Maryland Meals for Achievement Program

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has awarded $7.55 million in State funds to 485 schools selected to participate in Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA), an alternative breakfast delivery program that provides students with free, in-classroom breakfast.

According to a press release:

The funds supplement the federal reimbursement that schools receive through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s School Breakfast Program. In School Year 2018-2019, 258,984 Maryland students will benefit from this program. Of the 485 schools participating, 26 schools will be participating for the first time due to an additional $650,000 provided by Governor Hogan in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

Schools are selected annually by MSDE based on eligibility criteria, previous participation, preferences of the school districts, and the amount of State funds available. Maryland law also requires the selection of schools to represent geographic and socioeconomic balance.

Alternative breakfast delivery models, such as the MMFA, increase students’ access to a healthful morning meal. Additionally, recent legislation allows participating middle and high schools to serve breakfast in the school building through Grab and Go kiosks while still requiring students to consume the meal in the classroom.

Click here for a list of participating schools.

Read the full press release for more information.

State Board Hears Update on School Safety Initiatives

The Maryland State Board of Education yesterday heard an update on school safety initiatives aimed at improving school safety through a variety of statewide standards and guidelines. As previously reported on Conduit StreetSB 1265, Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, passed the General Assembly on the final day of the 2018 legislative session and was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan.

Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS)

MCSS is made an independent unit within MSDE. The bill transfers some of the center’s existing duties to the subcabinet, and adds the following duties to MCSS’s charge:

  • assist local school systems to identify resources and implement training for students and parents about relationship violence, identifying the signs of unhealthy relationships, and preventing relationship violence;
  • analyze data on SROs and develop guidelines for local school systems regarding the assignment and training of SROs;
  • certify school safety coordinators;
  • consult with local school systems on safety evaluations;
  • review and comment on school emergency plans; and
  • report on life-threatening incidents that occur on public school grounds.
Courtesy of MSDE

The bill establishes a School Safety Subcabinet, which also serves as the governing board for the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS). The State Superintendent or designee chairs the subcabinet and the Executive Director of MCSS provides staff.

The subcabinet is charged with multiple responsibilities, chief among them (1) collaborating with various stakeholders to provide a comprehensive, coordinated approach to school safety; (2) initiating collaborative partnerships and facilitating coordination among stakeholders to leverage existing resources to deliver school safety services uniformly to local school systems; (3) distributing grants from the Safe Schools Fund; and (4) adopting regulations to carry out its responsibilities. The subcabinet must submit an annual report with specified information.

The subcabinet is also given responsibility for making grants for security-related expenses to schools and child care centers at risk of hate crimes under Chapter 732 of 2016; the bill authorizes the Governor to transfer $1.0 million from the Governor’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for this purpose.

The School Safety Subcabinet Advisory Board is established and includes a broad array of stakeholders to advise and assist the subcabinet in carrying out its duties. A member of the advisory board may not receive compensation but is entitled to reimbursement of expenses.

Courtesy of MSDE

School Safety and Security Funding Overview

One-Time Funding:

  • $2.5 million in safety assessment grants to be administered by MCSS
  • $10 million in MSDE administered school safety grants
  • $10 million in grants to be administered by the Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction (IAC) for safety-related operating and capital projects
  • $10 million in school safety improvement grants provided in the capital budget

Permanent Funding:

  • $10 million in mandated funding in FY 2019 and beyond for school resource officers (SROs) and other local law enforcement strategies to provide adequate school coverage. MCSS will provide grants to local school systems and law enforcement agencies to meet the SRO/law enforcement coverage requirements. Grants must be made based on the proportion of public schools in each jurisdiction.
  • Minimum of $2 million for 13 new positions at the Maryland Center for School Safety
Courtesy of MSDE

School Resource Officers

A school resource officer is defined as (1) a law enforcement officer assigned to a school in accordance with a memorandum of understanding between a local law enforcement agency and a local school system or (2) a Baltimore City School Police Officer, as defined in current law. By September 1, 2018, MCSS, in consultation with local school systems, must develop a specialized curriculum to be used in training SROs that addresses specified issues. The curriculum must be submitted to the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission (MPTSC) for approval. By March 1, 2019, MCSS must develop and submit to MPTSC for approval a model training program based on the curriculum. Each local law enforcement agency must enroll SROs either in (1) the MCSS model training program or (2) a local training program approved by MPTSC that is consistent with the approved curriculum. All SROs must complete an approved specialized training program by September 1, 2019.

MCSS must collect specified data on SROs and, by December 15, 2018, develop guidelines based on its analysis of the data to assist local school systems in (1) determining the appropriate number and assignment of SROs, including supplemental coverage by local law enforcement agencies and (2) collaborating and communicating with local law enforcement agencies. By July 1, 2019, each local school system must develop a plan in
consultation with local law enforcement to implement the guidelines and submit its plan to MCSS for review and comment.

Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, and each school year thereafter, each local school system must file a report with MCSS before the school year begins that demonstrates (1) that each public school has an SRO assigned to the school or (2) if no SRO is assigned to a public school, that adequate local law enforcement coverage will be provided to the school. MCSS must submit annual summaries of the SRO reports it receives to the Governor and General Assembly.

Deadlines: Center & Subcabinet

According to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), it is on track to meet the implementation deadlines outlined in the legislation.

Model Policy for Assessment Teams

By September 1, 2018, the subcabinet must develop a model policy for the establishment of one or more assessment teams in each local school system. The model policy must include specified provisions generally related to (1) the identification of, and intervention with, students or other individuals who may pose a threat to school safety; (2) the composition and appropriate number of assessment teams within local school systems; and (3) training for the assessment teams.

By September 1, 2019, each local school system must adopt a policy for the establishment of assessment teams that is consistent with the model policy. Local policies must include:

  • a process for regular assessment and intervention, including diversion and de-escalation, if an individual exhibits behavior that may pose a threat to school safety;
  • standards for timely response and procedures for coordination among members of the team, including referral of relevant information to appropriate authorities; and
  • standards and procedures for the referral of an individual for evaluation, services, or treatment when appropriate.
Courtesy of MSDE
Courtest of MSDE

Deadlines: School System

School Safety Evaluations and Emergency Plans

Each local school system must designate a school safety coordinator, who must be certified by MCSS and serve as the liaison between the local school system, local law enforcement, and MCSS. By June 15, 2019, and regularly thereafter, each local school system must conduct a safety evaluation of each school to (1) identify and, if necessary, develop solutions for physical safety concerns and (2) identify and evaluate any patterns of safety concerns on school property or at school-sponsored events. In conducting the safety evaluations, each safety coordinator must consult with MCSS, coordinate with IAC, and submit a summary of the completed evaluations to MCSS.

MSDE must update the Emergency Planning Guidelines for Local School Systems by December 1, 2019, to reflect the initial findings from local safety evaluations.

By July 1, 2020, and regularly thereafter, each local school system must update the school emergency plan for each public school. The plans must conform to the MSDE guidelines regarding how the school will address behavioral threats and emergency events. In updating the plans, local school systems must work with MCSS to correct any identified weaknesses.

School safety evaluations, emergency plans, and local law enforcement coverage policies are not subject to inspection under the Maryland Public Information Act, except by designated State agencies, emergency management agencies, and local law enforcement in the performance of their official duties.

Courtesy of MSDE

Mental Health Services 

By September 1, 2018, each local school system must appoint a mental health services coordinator to coordinate existing mental health services and referral procedures within the local school system. Working with specified local entities, the coordinator must (1) ensure that a student who is referred for mental health services obtains the necessary services; (2) maximize external funding for mental health and wraparound services, as defined by the bill; and (3) develop plans for delivering behavioral health and wraparound services to students who exhibit specified behaviors of concern. Grants from the Safe Schools Fund may be used to develop plans for delivering mental health and wraparound services. 

The bill requires the subcabinet to review the local plans for delivering behavioral health and wraparound services (discussed above) and identify gaps in the availability of services and providers for school-age children in the State by December 1, 2018. It also requires the Kirwan Commission to include in its final report (due December 31, 2018) recommendations for additional mental health and wraparound services in local school systems and funding required for those services.

Courtesy of MSDE

Useful Links

MSDE’s presentation to the State Board of Education.

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018: What You Need to Know