He spoke with WFMD News on Wednesday.
Frederick, Md (KM). One of the biggest issues the Hogan Administration is tackling is fatal drug overdoses. After he took office, Governor Larry Hogan set up a Heron and Opioid Emergency Task Force chaired by Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford.
During a visit to Frederick, Rutherford said a lot of the fatal drug overdoses are now due to fentanyl which is more potent than heroin and morphine. “We are asking our federal partners in the federal government to assist in this, particularly through the Postal Service in interdicting packages that may come in from China,” he says.
When it comes to purchasing fentanyl, addicts do not need to go out on the streets to purchase the drug. “There are sites on the web that people can order fentanyl, ” he said. “It’s not getting shipped through the package companies because they have tracking systems in place. But we need to the Postal Service to do a better job.”
Part of the Governor’s action against the drug problem was a declaration of a state of emergency. “It’s better coordinating between the emergency management folks, the first responders and the health officials in the county in terms of how we can try to address the problem,” he says.
And state and local officials cannot give up, Rutherford says, no matter how overwhelming this problem may be. “Unfortunately, it’s still continuing. So that means we have to continue our efforts to slow this down,” he says.
Rutherford says efforts to fight the drug problem means education and prevention to keep young people from trying narcotics. “Trying to slow down the new users, new people coming into this problem. At the same time, we have to then have treatment facilities available for those who are currently suffering,” he says.
Other ways to go after the drug problem include “recovery, those who may go through treatment but then it becomes an ongoing challenge to stay off of those drugs. And then we have a law enforcement component as well to prevent these distributors of these poisons from bringing them into our marketplace,” says Rutherford.
During his interview with WFMD News, Lieutenant Governor Rutherford also talked about the 2018 General Assembly. He says the Hogan Administration has some goals for lawmakers to accomplish. They include more transparency in government, which includes the broadcasting or streaming of legislative meetings live, and reforming the redistricting process. “We have a crime package that we fee that needs to be passed as well,” he says. “More truth in sentencing. If someone is sentenced to five years, they should serve five years, and not be plea bargained away or suspended away.”
And the General Assembly needs to address the impact of the federal tax law on Marylanders. “For the vast of majority of Marylanders, federal taxes are going to go down. It could mean that our state tax will go up in terms of the amount of taxes that a Maryland resident will pay,” says Rutherford. “And so the Governor is saying he wants to hold everybody harmless. We’re not going to take any additional money from the taxpayers and that requires Legislature to come around to that as well.”
By Kevin McManus