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Carroll commissioners discuss more education, opioid-related bills

The Board of County Commissioners discussed possible legislation to move forward to the delegation, two of which dealt with opioids and education, topics that have run strong through many of the commissioners’ proposals this year.

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The opioid-related bill, which was brought by Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, would limit opioid prescriptions to a six-day supply. Frazier said this would be one six-day prescription, and wouldn’t allow a person to get one for six days, and then another for six days, and then another for six more days.

A person can get addicted really quickly, Frazier said.

“So why give yourself the chance?” he added.

At the end of the six days, Frazier said, the doctor and patient need to find a different way to manage pain.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, said he did support the idea, although he had some concerns and said he would feel comfortable if language was added for medical professionals to give exception in exigent and justified circumstances.

“I support the intent of this,” he added.

Commissioners voted unanimously, and agreed that language could be added that would allow a doctor to deviate from the six-day prescription if there are no other treatments that work, and requiring them to justify and document the decision, though Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said Gov. Larry Hogan tried to put a similar bill forward during the least session and it didn’t go anywhere after being heavily debated.

Wantz said he was worried the bill was too broad and that it wouldn’t get through the legislation that way.

“It might be a good start but I don’t think it’ll go anywhere,” he added.

Wantz said he thought the governor would put another bill in this year that addresses the contested areas from last year, but Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, said it would be a bill supported by Carroll’s own bill.

“We have to start doing something,” Weaver added.

Frazier said there are a lot of similar bills going in, and he hopes they could be combined into something in the legislation.

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, backed Frazier, saying that this is one issue that is worth being bold, or extreme or a little out there in trying to fight. He, too, said it is a good start in moving forward.

The second bill discussed, which was brought up by Howard, deals with education funding. The state’s participation in education funding has declined over the years, Howard said, and at this point, with no direction yet from the Kirwan Commission, the “fact is the formula is the formula.”

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Howard suggested a bill would allow that if the state’s funding dipped below a certain percentage of a school system’s budget — like 40 percent — then the school system could be exempt from certain state mandates that aren’t graduation requirements or federal mandates.

“If you’re a minority partner … I think we ought to have something in there that says we can be exempted,” he said. “Otherwise, I don’t know how we get our arms around the financial side of this.”

Weaver and Frazier left before the bill was discussed in full, but both expressed support for it.

A motion was made for staff to write a proposed bill, to which Howard and Wantz voted for and Rothschild abstained.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Frazier moved up to Board of County Commissioners president and Wantz to vice president. Weaver, the outgoing president, won a vote and will become secretary.

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