Queen Anne’s, Talbot Go Purple to Fight Opioid Abuse

The Queen Anne’s County Drug-Free Coalition, in partnership with the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners, the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, and other stakeholders is launching a new campaign to prevent opioid abuse. “QAC Goes Purple” is a substance abuse awareness program that will engage the community and youth to stand against substance abuse.

“Talbot Goes Purple” is an initiative from Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools and Mid-Shore Community Foundation.

According to a press release:

The project is based upon THP Project Purple, an initiative of The Herren Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation established by former NBA basketball player, Chris Herren, that assists individuals and families struggling with addiction.

The THP Project Purple initiative was launched to break the stigma of addiction, bring awareness to the dangers of substance abuse and encourage positive decision making to navigate life’s challenges.

More information on THP Project Purple is available at www.thpprojectpurple.org.

Early Voting Numbers Up 53% from 2014

June 14th marked the beginning of early voting for Maryland’s primary elections. Maryland voters made a strong showing on the first day of early voting, which will continue through June 21. Primary election day is set for June 26.

According to The Baltimore Sun:

As of 7:30 p.m., more than 31,000 Marylanders have cast ballots on the first day of early voting. This marks a 53 percent increase over 2014, when more than 20,000 Marylanders cast ballots during the first day of early voting.

Only registered voters are eligible to participate in early voting. Anyone not registered may provide proof of residency at their early voting location and register on site.

Read the full article for more information.

Frederick to Sue Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors

Frederick County and The City of Frederick will join many other states, county, and municipal jurisdictions in filing lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors for their role in the nationwide crisis. The lawsuits will be filed in the Federal District Court in Baltimore.

According to a press release:

“We need to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for heavily promoting the very prescription drugs that are a key factor in opioid addiction,” said County Executive Jan Gardner. “Frederick County has already devoted a tremendous amount of resources to the opioid crisis. Through this lawsuit we will be better able to help our residents with educational and addiction recovery assistance.”

This year there have been 154 opioid-related overdoses handled by law enforcement agencies in Frederick County as of May 31, including 25 fatal overdoses. Frederick County and The City of Frederick retained the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, which will file the lawsuits on behalf of the jurisdictions.

The firm was also hired by several counties and cities across the United States, including Montgomery and Baltimore Counties. Outside counsel for Anne Arundel, Cecil and Harford have filed similar suits on behalf of their residents, claiming that the pharmaceutical manufacturers intensified the opioid epidemic by minimizing or concealing the risks to doctors and patients about the highly probable addiction associated with its drugs.

The lawsuits will seek restitution for the harm incurred as a result of deceptive and fraudulent marketing practices of several pharmaceutical manufacturers and the failure to report suspicious purchases by certain wholesalers. As a result, these manufacturers and wholesalers have violated federal and state laws.

Read the full article for more information.

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.

Got PILT? The Feds May Owe You Money

The Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program was created in 1976 to compensate counties and other local governments for losses in tax revenues due to the presence of substantial federal land acreage within their jurisdictions. Because local governments are unable to tax the property values or products derived from federal lands, PILT payments are necessary to support essential local government services. Maryland received $111,289 in PILT payments in 2017.

FY 2017 PILT Payments (Courtesy of United States Department of the Interior)

In 2008, Congress significantly amended the PILT statute by mandating full funding through 2014 and removing language that limited the federal government’s payment obligation to the amounts appropriated by Congress. Congress has never reinserted that language. For 2015-17, because of insufficient appropriations, PILT recipients did not receive the full amount to which they were entitled under the PILT statute based on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s full payment calculation.

Kane County, Utah filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking to recover its own underpayments and the underpayments of a class made up of all other PILT recipients in those years. Several months ago, the Court ruled in Kane County’s favor and certified the lawsuit as a class action. The Court also named Smith Currie & Hancock, LLP, Kane County’s lawyers, as Class Counsel to represent all members of the class. The Court ordered that an official Notice of these events be sent to each underpaid PILT recipient. That Notice will be mailed on June 19 to all PILT recipients.

The Notice explains that to participate in the class action lawsuit, and collect the amounts due to them through the class action lawsuit, each underpaid PILT recipient must complete and submit a form “opting into” the lawsuit. If you do not submit the form, you will not be included in the class action lawsuit—and will not receive what would otherwise be your share of any monies recovered.

Additionally, the National Association of Counties (NACo) is scheduling a conference call with the Class Counsel on June 19 at 3 pm. All PILT recipients and state associations of counties are invited to join that call, where Alan Saltman from Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP will be available to answer any questions.

PILT Lawsuit Conference Call

Jonathan Shuffield, NACo; and Alan Saltman, Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP (Class Counsel)
Call Date: Tuesday, June 19; 3 pm
Dial-In: (719) 457-0816
Passcode: 782427

Contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo for more information.

Councilmember Craig Rice Receives Cornerstone Award for Education & Leadership

Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County Council

Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice received the Cornerstone Award for Education and Leadership from the Metropolitan Kappa Youth Foundation at the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.’s Annual Black and White Scholarship Gala on June 8, 2018, for his work and dedication to youth in the Community.

According to a press release:

The Metropolitan Kappa Youth Foundation, Inc. exists as the philanthropic arm of the Silver Spring Alumni Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Metropolitan Kappa Youth Foundation, Inc.’s mission is to provide scholarships and mentoring programs for minority and disadvantaged youth in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area. The Foundation supports and conducts activities with the implicit purpose of helping youth “Achieve.”

“As a son of a teacher, I understand and respect how education is paramount in achieving our goals and ambitions in life,” said Councilmember Rice. “I am honored to have Metropolitan Kappa Youth Foundation recognize my work and ongoing commitment to ensuring all students are afforded the resources and opportunities needed for them to succeed.”

Councilmember Rice chairs the Council’s Education Committee and also serves on its Health and Human Services Committee. Since 2015, Councilmember Rice has organized a series of Education Budget Forums throughout the County, along with leaders from Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College, to talk about the County’s budget process as it relates to education funding. In addition to representing MACo on the Kirwan Commission, he also serves as the Montgomery County Council representative for the MACo Legislative Committee and has chaired our Education Committee since 2015.

Read the full press release for more information.

Allegany Commissioners Approve Additional School Resource Officer

The Allegany County Board of Commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a plan to add an additional School Resource Officer (SRO) to the county’s public school system for the 2018-2019 school year. Allegany County will have a total of nine SROs dedicated to serving the school system.

According to the Cumberland Times-News:

The addition of one SRO will bring the total to four officers supplied through the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office. The additional five SROs are supplied through other agencies.

Brandon Butler, county administrator, introduced the topic for a vote. He said while Maryland recently approved additional funding for school security statewide, it may be as late as 2020 before the funds and associated guidelines are made available.

SB 1265, Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, passed the General Assembly on the final day of the 2018 legislative session and has been signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan. The legislation creates a variety of statewide standards and guidelines.

The bill requires public high schools to have either a school resource officer or plans for adequate law enforcement coverage by the upcoming school year. Public middle and elementary schools will need to have either a school resource officer or plans for adequate law enforcement coverage in place prior to the 2019-2020 school year.

Useful Links

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

Read the full article in the Cumberland Times-News

Conduit Street Podcast: Primary Ballot Battle, Kirwan 2.0, Wynne Whammy, & #MACoCon

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson break down the primary ballot battle between gubernatorial Candidate Valerie Ervin and the State Board of Elections, provide insight on the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence In Education, discuss the latest twist in the Wynne saga, and preview the 2018 MACo Summer Conference.

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: Ervin Sues State in Primary Ballot Battle

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Reprinting Primary Election Ballots Could Be Costly for Counties

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Court Strikes Wynne Interest Rate, Costing Counties $30 Million

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Could a New Governance Board Guide MD School Reforms?

Harford Introduces “I’m P.O.W.E.R.E.’D” Program

The 14th annual Harford County Drug Prevention, Intervention & Treatment Symposium is an annual conference with a mission to bring awareness to the community on a variety of drug-related topics. The conference will take place on Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Bel Air High School in Bel Air, Maryland.

This year’s symposium will focus on suicide prevention, spirituality and recovery, trauma and resilience, challenges of procrastination, adverse childhood experiences, tobacco interventions, and Maryland’s opiate overdose program. The conference will feature the “I’m P.O.W.E.R.E.’D” (Positive Outcomes With Education, Responsibility, & Determination) Summit, a program designed to help teens stand up to negative pressures and teach them skills to live healthy, productive lives.

This event is free and open to teens aged 14-18 and will take place from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm and will feature:

  • Drug & Alcohol Awareness
  • Group Discussions & Interactive Activities
  • Refusal & Coping Skills
  • Body Image/Self Esteem
  • Staying Safe on Social Media
  • How to Deal with Bullying
  • FREE Giveaways

Contact the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy 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.