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January 26, 2019

Trone promises to work on transportation, opioid solutions with Frederick County

Credit: The Frederick News-Post, Samantha Hogan

ANNAPOLIS — Congressman David Trone (D-District 6) made a surprise appearance at the Frederick County delegation meeting in Annapolis on Friday to discuss border security, opioids and local priorities.

Trone used the meeting to announce he will open an office in Frederick County and is currently looking for space along the Golden Mile. He plans to double the number of offices run by his predecessor in District 6 to improve access to constituents, but on Friday he wanted to know what the state representatives needed from him.

“No one knows the county like the folks that live in the county. How’s Washington ever going to make a good decision for all the counties around the country? They’ll never get it right,” Trone said.

Direct spending on opioid treatment and assistance expanding U.S. 15 through the city of Frederick were the two priorities the delegation and Trone could agree on. With the federal government reopening within hours of their talks, there was the possibility some work could begin on both.

The delegation was in unanimous agreement that a local expansion of U.S. 15 was needed, but there remain conflicting views between the members on Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) larger proposal to increase the number of lanes directly to south on I-270. One of the potential designs includes a public-private partnership with toll lanes.

Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-District 3A) also pushed back on Hogan’s transportation plan for the potential air quality ramifications of expanding vehicle infrastructure in Maryland.

Trone said ultimately the project would be a series of trade-offs, but he was in “total agreement” with the delegation that the transportation infrastructure for his district needed to be improved. Trone grew up in Adams County and has driven on I-270 and U.S. 15 for more than 30 years, he said.

“We got to think of the government more long-term, and that’s what transportation infrastructure is about. That’s what broadband in Allegheny and Garret county are about. That’s what the environment’s about — protecting the bay, protecting the water, the air. Those are long-term things,” Trone said.

Whether a wall on the southern border of the United States is the appropriate long-term infrastructure decision for the country, however, was still being debated.

The federal government shutdown — which was the longest in U.S. history when it ended on Friday — centered on a policy disagreement between the President and Congress on the use of a physical barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border, Trone said.

Trone supports improving technology on the southern border through more road crossings and scanning equipment, which members of the Democratic Party have pushed as an alternative to President Donald Trump’s (R) request for $5.7 billion to build a physical wall. Improving border security, overall, is important too, Trone told the delegation.

Sen. Michael Hough (R-District 4) told Trone he was glad to hear border security was a concern of his. Hough will chair a statewide task force on gangs at the request of the governor this year.

“There are things coming across the border. Human trafficking, MS13 and there’s gang problems coming across,” Hough said. “… I don’t care whether it’s a fence, or whatever you do, just securing that border — I think — will help with some of the issues that we’re seeing across the state.”

In particular, stemming the flow of opioids — such as heroin and the more potent fentanyl — across all U.S. borders is key.

Trone said he wants to be a resource to local officials in the fight against opioid use. That requires a partnership between County Executive Jan Gardner, the County Council, Board of Aldermen of the city of Frederick and constituents, he said.

Delegation Chairwoman Carol Krimm (D-District 3A) requested Trone inform the delegation of potential federal grant opportunities for opioid treatment. Hogan already committed $500,000 of state money to establishing a detox center in Frederick County in the coming year.

“We’re going to be relentless on opioids,” Trone said. “It’s all my staff talks about, thinks about, every single day.”