Opioids, greater voice in Annapolis takeaways for Carroll commissioners at MACo winter conference

All has been quiet at Carroll County government this past week as the Board of County Commissioners spent it at the Maryland Association of Counties 2019 Winter Conference in Dorchester County.

This year’s winter conference, “Charting the Course,” focused on “where we are, where we need to be, and how to get there,” according to the MACo website. “Attendees will explore how county government works and dive into the policy issues facing Maryland as we begin a new legislative session.”


New to the conference were commissioners Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, and Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, who just began their first terms.

“[I learned] that we have the option of suing the opioid industry in state court instead of federal court,” Bouchat told the Times Friday, just as the conference was ending.

He has mentioned in his campaign and during a meeting with state legislators in December that suing the industry was a priority for him.

Rothstein also said the discussions on opioids were among his biggest takeaways from the conference.

“Regarding opioids and substance abuse, the term being used was Substance Use Disorder that focused the attention on that substance abuse is a disease and not a choice,” he told the Times while heading back to Carroll from Cambridge on Friday. “Therefore [it] must be resourced and treated toward that end, focusing on treatment and therapy that will minimize relapses.

“The key takeaway for me is the importance of understanding the problem before we come up with solutions,” Rothstein said.

Bouchat said he also learned “commissioners lack influence in state politics and county executives get respect, putting Carroll County at a disadvantage.” Bouchat has also been a vocal supporter of a move to charter government.

Even though Carroll County has a commissioner-style government, the board did get a step closer to ensuring their concerns are heard in Annapolis.

Board of County Commissioners President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, was sworn in and is now serving on the MACo board of directors.

“That's a plus for Carroll because it’s been quite a while since we’ve had that kind of voice in Annapolis with that group, and they’re very strong,” Wantz said.

The commissioners were headed back to Carroll County on Friday afternoon, and Wantz said they will discuss more about the conference next week.

The commissioners are slated to meet for the first time this year at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Carroll County Government Office building. On Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 7:30 a.m., all five commissioners will participate in the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the County address at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster.