Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has unveiled what he called a “holistic” strategy to deal with Maryland’s growing heroin problem, but stopped short of declaring the state of emergency he vowed last year to put in place, the Baltimore Sun reports. After weeks of buildup, Hogan announced a four-pronged approach to one of the signature issues of his campaign. It involves no dramatic breaks from the policies followed by former Gov. Martin O’Malley. Hogan put much of the substantive policy development in the hands of a task force that will report to him by Dec. 1.
The program includes a $500,000 federal grant, but no new state money for treatment. At a news conference, Hogan seemed to choke up several times as he described how pervasive he found the problem as he traveled around the state last year. “This used to be considered an urban problem, but it’s not anymore,” he said. All over the state, local officials told Hogan heroin had become their No. 1 problem. The governor said he felt a personal connection because a cousin died of an overdose a couple of years ago. “I know the kind of devastation it can cause for families and communities, but still I was shocked by how widespread this problem had become,” he said. Delegate Kirill Reznik said the task force duplicates a council he has served on since 2007. “The idea of another task force, I’m a little skeptical of it,” he said.