County lawsuits on opioids reminiscent of tobacco lawsuits

Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Harford, and Montgomery counties claim the pharmaceutical industry expedited the epidemic by hiding or minimizing addiction risks yet aggressively marketed their products to the public and medical professionals. The counties are requesting financial relief for their costs of responding. As many as 200 U.S. cities and counties have filed or plan to file so far. The David v Goliath tactic is reminiscent of the 1990s when every state joined a suit against the tobacco industry. The $246 billion settlement against 13 corporations was reached after four years of maneuvering.

Conowingo, growth, climate may threaten Bay cleanup deadline

The Chesapeake cleanup effort is facing major headwinds that threaten the region’s longstanding goal to implement by 2025 all of the actions needed to restore the Bay’s health. Draft figures presented to state and federal officials in December show that the combined impact of growth, climate change and the filling of the Conowingo Dam reservoir offset much of the nitrogen reduction efforts undertaken since 2010, when the most recent Bay pollution control plan was put into place.

Anti-opioid initiatives focus of Annapolis attention

Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford Tuesday unveiled their “2018 Anti-Opioid Initiatives” in Maryland’s campaign against a staggering opioid crisis that shows no signs of slowing. The announcement from the Republican governor immediately produced another tiff with Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh. But there was broad bipartisan cooperation in evidence in Annapolis as Democratic House Speaker Michael Busch and Republican Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh jointly sponsored an opiod summit emphasizing local efforts and statewide legislation to battle the growing overdose deaths.

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Opinion: Rolling back Temporary Protected Status is good news for U.S. workers

There were an estimated 8 million unauthorized workers employed in the U.S. civilian labor force in 2014. Among authorized workers in the U.S. civilian labor force, there are hundreds of thousands of non-citizens who violated the U.S. border or other U.S. immigration laws but received U.S. work authorization permits anyway. The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program is one of the reasons. Trump Administration efforts to roll back TPS for countries like El Salvador and Honduras many years after the “qualifying” natural disasters have drawn outrage from some quarters. But rollback is good news for American and lawful permanent resident alien workers, writes Richard Douglas in a guest commentary.

Is organic farming good for the Chesapeake Bay?

Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector of the food industry in the United States, and its footprint in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is growing in kind.
The brand of agriculture that eschews the use of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and genetically engineered ingredients now makes up 20% of Perdue Farms’ poultry production on the Delmarva Peninsula, where the company is headquartered. The practices that earn poultry and grain producers the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic label may keep certain pesticides, antibiotics and hormones out of foods, but are they necessarily better for water quality and the Bay than conventional agriculture?

Shared parenting brightens the lives of children of divorce

The chance to brighten the lives of children through reform of custody laws has rightly become a major issue in Maryland. The family courts in most states still create custody battles in which the victorious parent becomes the “custodial” parent, and the loser becomes the every-other-weekend parent.

Funding for opioid emergency less than expected in Hogan budget

From kindergarten to graduate school, education clearly is Gov. Larry Hogan’s priority in this election year. The proof is spelled out in his administration’s $44.4 billion operating budget for FY 2019 delivered to the Maryland General Assembly Wednesday. To the chagrin of health professionals and advocacy groups, new funding for Maryland’s opioid “state of emergency,” declared by Hogan last March, is not as hefty as expected. The state’s upward trend in fatal and non-fatal overdoses began in 2010, and between 2015-16 deaths soared 66%, the highest per capita increase in the nation.

Bay Barometer finds things keep looking up

The wintry weather may have been frightful, but the latest Bay Barometer is pointing in a generally positive direction. The annual report released by the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program trumpeted continued gains in the long-running effort to restore the estuary, with new highs reached last year in fish passage, water quality and blue crab and underwater grass abundance.