Beds, Bupe, and More: ‘Sun’ Looks at Overdoses and Treatment in MD

Over 62,000 Marylanders are in need of treatment for opioid use — a complex crisis where solutions remain far from simple. 

The Baltimore Sun reported in-depth on the state’s efforts in recent years to stem the opioid crisis by noting success stories as well as where initiatives have stalled or fallen short.

Successes include:

  • Equipping first responders with Naloxone. This initiative went from a $856,000 budget and 29,000 doses dispensed in FY 2016 to a $3.6 million budget and 43,000 doses dispensed in FY 2018.
  • Medicaid expansion. Partnerships with the federal government for new funding to cover residential treatment services through Medicaid.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).  Maryland’s program requires pharmacies and medical practitioners to use the PDMP to help prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion.

The Sun article highlights progress made within county jails to provide medication assisted treatment, including buprenorphine, behind bars. Exceeding progress made within state prisons:

County jails are doing more in this regard, using state aid. Supplemental funding approved by the governor and the General Assembly last year provided $985,000 to increase access to medications at six correctional facilities in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Cecil, Dorchester, Howard and Washington counties.

However, gaps still remain. Despite the increase in services and resources the article points to the fact that more is needed. Officials on the ground continue to find there are still not enough treatment beds, not enough medication assisted treatment programs, and not enough data to help target resources and action.

For instance, steps could be taken to strengthen the PDMP program, but opposition from stakeholders has stymied the passage of stronger bills:

But critics say the system should alert licensing boards and law enforcement when prescribing practices appear to be inappropriate or illegal — as when a so-called “pill mill” is dispensing large quantities to a single address.

It was defeated amid strong opposition by the Maryland State Medical Society, which argued health officials lacked the experience to make such reports.

Additionally, real-time data on non-fatal overdoses is severely lacking. This data would be helpful for determining patterns and locations of deadly batches of opioids.

For more information read the full article:

After Larry Hogan vowed to take on Maryland’s opioid epidemic, deaths soared. What happened? (The Baltimore Sun)

Learn more about the challenges local governments face in ensuring their residents have access to behavioral health services at the MACo Winter Conference session, “Who’s Falling Through the Cracks? Gaps in Behavioral Health Services.”

Register Today for Winter #MACoCon

WCJ19 - Countdown Header

MACo’s Winter Conference, “Charting the Course,” will be held on January 2-4, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cambridge, MD. Registration is now open.

maco-winterconference-2016-glg76MACo’s upcoming Winter Conference will focus on the breadth of county services in Maryland, building relationships with newly elected officials at the county, state, and legislative levels, and strategic planning for coming years. Approximately 600 decision-makers from county and state government, along with legislators, and commercial and nonprofit representatives will gather to discuss what’s next for Maryland.

MACo’s Newly Elected Officials Orientation on January 2 will give new officials an in-depth overview of county governance and budgeting practices, a review of their role in the legislative process, and the opportunity to connect with veteran elected officials in a mentoring roundtable discussion.

Sessions will focus on both the foundation of county government and the deep policy issues of the moment. As our state steps into the 2019 legislative session on the heels of an election, we’ll discuss what’s next for county priorities like the opioid epidemic, implied preemption, school facility funding, and Next Gen 911 implementation.

The registration brochure will be available soon.

Register now to lock in early registration rates!

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Calling All Superstars – Nominate a Program or Leader Today for MACo’s County Champion Awards

MACo invites nominations for their County Champion Award series – awards will be issued for innovative county programs and a county leader demonstrating extraordinary public service. Nominations are due October 19, 2018, and award winners will be celebrated at MACo’s Winter Conference on January 2, 2019.

Dorchester County accepts the 2017 County Innovation Award for their Tax Lien Program

Award nominations should be completed and submitted to the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance through the University of Maryland School of Public Policy no later than October 19, 2018. Details are included in the application links below.

Please follow the nomination instructions carefully:

Award winners will be celebrated at MACo’s Winter Conference Welcoming Banquet & Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Approximately 400 county elected officials and staff, legislators, State and Federal officials, and commercial and nonprofit representatives will be present to congratulate them and learn from their programs and experiences.

If you have questions about either of these awards, please contact MACo’s Member Services Director, Virginia White.

Charting the Course – Submit Your Proposal for Winter #MACoCon by Sept 21

MACo’s Winter Conference, “Charting the Course,” will take place on January 2-4, 2019. Interested speakers should submit proposals (using the proposal outline) by September 21, 2018).

MACO-WINTERCONFERENCE-2017-DAY1-OHI157MACo’s Winter Conference will focus on the path ahead following the election, as new and returning officials convene to discuss the upcoming legislative session. Approximately 600 attendees are expected to attend the three-day conference.

With a heavy focus on county governance issues for new officials, topics will include overviews of budgeting, consensus-building, leadership, the Public Information Act and Open Meetings Act. Attendees will also be able to take a deeper look at some of the current hot policy topics: advancing broadband connectivity, local infrastructure, small cells, and the opioid epidemic…to name a few.

Interested speakers should review the Call for Proposals and submit their topics to Virginia White by September 21.

Charting the Course – County Leaders To Start Off the New Term with MACo Winter Conference

MACo’s Summer Conference has just ended, but it’s never too soon to start looking ahead to the next great MACo event: Winter Conference will be January 2-4, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge, MD – “Charting the Course.”

MACO-WINTERCONFERENCE-2017-DAY1-OHI157MACo’s Conference Planning Committee and Board of Directors are proud to announce the theme for the Winter Conference: “Charting the Course.”

The Winter Conference is normally held in December. However, every fourth year – following an election – MACo’s Winter Conference moves to January to give newly elected officials the opportunity to attend. Since the legislative session starts on the second Wednesday in January, the Winter Conference will be held on the first week (indeed, the first few days) of 2019.

“Charting the Course” will help set the direction for the new four-year term. Important to that goal will be a focus on county government fundamentals, building relationships with newly elected officials at the county, state, and legislative levels, and strategic planning for coming years. There will be workshops and panels for veteran officials as well, diving deeper into issues likely to be “hot” during the legislative session: 5G, small cells, opioids, etc.

The highlight of this Winter Conference will be MACo’s highly acclaimed “Newly Elected Officials Orientation.” This one-day intensive workshop for new county officials covers the basics – budgeting, open meetings, the Public Information Act – but also more abstract topics: the county official’s role in the legislature, building consensus, working within a governing body as a team. Seasoned officials will serve as mentors in a roundtable discussion allowing new members the chance to ask questions and learn from their experiences and insight.

With this being the first MACo conference of a term, we are expecting very high attendance: 600+ attendees and 70 exhibits.

Registration will be open soon, but for now – save the date!

Interested in receiving an announcement email?

Women of MACo Shine Light on Each Other’s Stories


At this year’s Women of MACo Lunch, Maryland’s female county elected officials joined in round table discussions about their careers, and recent challenges and breakthroughs they have experienced.

County Executive Jan Gardner kicked-off the event with a short keynote about her political career. Gardner is the First Frederick County Executive. Before winning that historic election, she served for 12 years as a Frederick County Commissioner, including as President of the Board of County Commissioners from 2006 to 2010.

She served as MACo President in 2007 and is currently a member of the MACo Board. Jan has been named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Daily Record three times and is a member of the Circle of Excellence.

Following the kick-off, attendees spoke with others about what brought them to public service, and their future plans. At my table, Charles County Commissioner Debra Davis shared her recent decision to file for state office, for a seat in the House of Delegates representing Legislative District 28.

Talbot County Council Member and MACo Board Member Laura Price moderated the event. Price shared how she decided to pursue elected office from her background as a small business owner.


From left to right, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, Charles County Commissioner Debra Davis, and Talbot County Councilwoman Laura Price.


2017 Winter #MACoCon Photo Recap

MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference – “The Power of Partnership” – on December 6-8 focused on how counties can work with partners from all levels of the private and public sectors to provide excellent service for Maryland’s county residents.

The full conference schedule and program of events can be viewed online.

Save the date for MACo’s next Winter Conference: January 2 – 4, 2019, at the Hyatt in Cambridge, MD (held in January to allow newly elected officials from the November 2018 elections to settle in and be able to attend the conference).

Don’t miss the 2018 Summer Conference: “Water, Water, Everywhere” on August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.

Photography was sponsored and provided by Grant L. Gursky Photography

Summer #MACoCon to Focus on Water Issues

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will focus on all the ways counties work with water.

SC18 Brochure Cover - finalFrom the health of the Bay and Maryland’s waterways to the infrastructure, treatment, and regulations that ensure safe and healthy water flows through our pipes, county governments are keeping our residents afloat. Conference sessions will discuss the Bay, water infrastructure, watermen and oyster/fishery/habitat issues, floods and other natural disasters, and ways to put the wind back in the sails of a tight budget.

Mark your calendars and join us on August 15-18, 2018 to discuss “Water, Water Everywhere.”

To submit a proposal, please see our Speaker RFP. Proposals are due April 13, 2018.

For more info on MACo’s Summer Conference, please visit our conference page.

#MACoCon Panel Showcases Successful County Collaborations

At the 2017 MACo Winter Conference general session “We’ve Got Your Back: Counties Collaborate” attendees learned about how counties are leveraging intergovernmental and private sector partnerships to achieve the best results for county residents.

The panelists discussed a range of challenges counties grapple with — responding to natural disasters, ensuring public safety, maximizing purchasing power and investments — and the ways counties can use partnerships to overcome those challenges.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman kicked off the panel with a presentation on the recovery efforts after the 2016 Ellicott City flood. He noted that neighboring counties, state agencies, and responders from across the country were crucial in the successful response and recovery to the flood. Partners sent people to help with operational support, including an Incident Management Team from Pennsylvania as Maryland did not have such a team. They also sent equipment such as VAT trucks from Anne Arundel County, SHA trucks, and a helicopter. County Executive Kittleman stressed the importance of a united front while working together and of patience throughout the long-term process of recovery. He concluded sharing that 96% percent of business are back up and running 16 months after the flood — exceeding SBA’s estimate that only 20-30% of businesses would return.

Jim Alfree, Assistant Chief in Queen Anne’s County’s Department of Emergency Services presented on a 911 call overflow partnership between Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline, Queen Anne’s, and Kent counties. Prior to the partnership if you called 911 and the line was busy, you would get a busy signal until the line opened. He likened it to “playing Russian Roulette until you can get through to 911”. To fix this they developed a call flow. When one county 911 center is being inundated by calls, instead of receiving a busy signal the call will be sent to one of the neighboring county call centers. The counties developed a PSA and their public information officers helped with the campaign to get the message out.

Debbie Groat, Regional Purchasing Coordinator for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council presented on the benefits of aggregating county purchases to generate better prices and better services. Generally the greater the volume of purchases the greater the benefits. She noted that 60% of contracts that counties use are the same and that cooperative purchasing can save counties 3-15%. Groat explained the Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee’s lead buyer model which helps member counties piggy back on lead buyers contract. And how the committee provides a platform for sharing information on standard cooperative language and best practices that counties can use.

From left to right: County Executive Kittleman, Jim Alfree, Debbie Groat, Chris Dellinger, Joseph Mason
From left to right: County Executive Kittleman, Jim Alfree, Debbie Groat, Chris Dellinger, Joseph Mason

Chris Dellinger, Public Sector Solutions Energy & Sustainability Services for Schneider Electric, spoke about a public-private-partnership between Schneider Electric and Montgomery County to develop a microgrid to protect critical departments in the face of environmental disasters power outages. This partnership arose from a snow storm that hit Montgomery County and significantly knocked out power across the jurisdiction. The microgrids help ensure the county can continue to provide critical services in the face of such storms. The microgrid can power important systems and maintain functionality of a building while the electric grid is down and being worked on. Currently the Montgomery County Correctional Facility and Public Safety Headquarters now have microgrids.

Last but not least, Joseph Mason, Senior Vice President for Davenport & Company gave an overview of the MACo Pooled OPEB Investment Trust Fund. The OPEB trust helps local governments invest current funds toward future obligations for retiree health insurance. By pooling money together counties can reduce overhead and legal costs, as well as gain access to better investments.

This session was moderated by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and held on Thursday, December 7. The MACo Winter Conference was held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme was “The Power of Partnership.”

State Development Plan Perspectives Offered at #MACoCon

County officials received and update on the pending State Development Plan on December 7 at the 2017 MACo Winter Conference. The panel was called “Planning Ahead: Preparing for the New State Development Plan” and was moderated by Wicomico County Council Member Matthew Holloway.

From Left to Right: John Campagna, Gerrit Knaap, Council Member Matt Holloway, and Special Secretary Wendi Peters

Maryland Special Secretary of Smart Growth Wendi Peters stated that the new State Development Plan, called “A Better Maryland,” would be built on local comprehensive plans and focus on: (1) identifying local priorities; (2) improving communication between state agencies; and (3) assessing information needs at both the state and local levels. Peters noted that as part of the plan development process, other planning tools, such as the Maryland Transportation Plan and infrastructure funding, would also be reviewed for potential changes. Peters also provided an update on the listening session that are occurring in each county and stressed that the Maryland Department of Planning would also be meeting with regional councils and other stakeholders as well.

National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education Director Gerrit Knaap noted that only about a half-dozen states attempt a statewide plan and that statewide planning can be a useful exercise. Knaap stated that PlanMaryland, the previous and now rescinded State Development Plan, did not take into account planning trends occurring in Europe, which included planning becoming more decentralized from the state/nation level and more invested at a regional level. There was also a movement towards incentives and away from regulations to encourage local compliance with state/national goals. Knaap urged that “A Better Maryland” should be an amalgamation of local plans and Maryland can then flag areas of contention and conflict (similar to  what Maryland does for Priority Funding Areas). Knaap noted that the state can then layer other issues (transportation, enviornemntal, etc.) on top of the local “base layer.”

1000 Friends of Maryland Executive Director John Campagna stated that A Better Maryland needed three key components: (1) a partnership committment by the State; (2) solid metrics; and (3) inclusion of all stakeholders in the development process. Campagna stressed that all voices needed to be heard – urban, rural, and suburban.