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April 2012 - CDC Public Health Law News

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

From the Public Health Law Program,
Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Announcements

  1. Webinar Providing Newborn Screening Specimens for Research: Legal Issues Faced by State Health Departments Webinar Series, hosted by the Network for Public Health Law. States that store and provide residual dried blood spots (DBS) for secondary uses, or are considering storage and secondary uses, may face an array of legal issues. This webinar series is intended to cover these legal issues – and related ethical and policy issues – concerning secondary uses of DBS and associated data. This webinar series is intended for public health attorneys, newborn screening program and laboratory staff, institutional review board staff, HIPAA privacy boards, privacy officers, researchers, and others who have interest in legal, ethical, and policy issues related to secondary uses of residual DBS. Register and access a list of upcoming webinars.

  2. Weight of the Nation™ Conference. On May 7–9, 2012, the CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity will host the Weight of the Nation™ Conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference is designed to provide a forum to highlight progress in obesity prevention and control through policy and environmental strategies, framed around five intervention settings: early care and education; states, tribes and communities; medical care; schools; and workplaces. The conference will feature a number of public health law-related sessions, as well as a practitioner training on public health law and policy. Find more information about the Weight of the Nation™ Conference and registration.

  3. Oral argument posted. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) cases, Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, on March 26 through 28, 2012. Find more information about case filings and hear oral arguments.

  4. Notice of Amendment: Amendment to the March 1, 2010 Republished Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). The PREP Act authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (Secretary) to issue a declaration providing immunity from tort liability for claims of loss arising out of, caused by, relating to, or resulting from administration or use of countermeasures to conditions determined by the Secretary to constitute a credible present or future risk of public health emergency. Find more information about the PREP Act and the PREP Act Amendment.

  5. Public Health Law Conference. Save the date for the 2012 Public Health Law Conference: Practical Approaches to Critical Challenges. The conference is sponsored by the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics (ASLME) and the Network for Public Health Law and will take place October 10–12 in Atlanta, Georgia. Find more Public Health Law Conference information and register.

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Legal Tools

  1. Identifying Vulnerable Older Adults and Legal Options for Increasing Their Protection During All-Hazards Emergencies: A Cross-Sector Guide for States and Communities [PDF - 3.79MB]. The CDC Healthy Aging Program has published this Guide; the Guide's release coincides with the launch of a Web portal "designed to increase protection of older adults during all-hazards emergencies." The Guide covers a variety of topics, including developing plans, using data for action, partnering and collaboration, building registries, using law-based solutions, sheltering, and caregiver preparedness. For more information regarding the Guide and its creation, please read this month's Profile in Public Health Law interview with Rebecca Polinsky, who worked extensively with the CDC Healthy Aging Program and partners across the country to create the Guide.

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Top Stories

  1. New Mexico: Twofold dilemma of DWI: State wrangles with repeat offenders; some focus on first-timers
    Santa Fe New Mexican (04/07/2012) Anne Constable

    Recent deaths related to driving while intoxicated (DWI) have invited sharp criticism of New Mexico's laws governing DWI. In many cases, the DWI offender has been convicted of DWI on multiple occasions before ultimately causing a fatal crash.

    Michael Sandoval, director of New Mexico's Traffic Safety Division, describes the current fine and mandatory treatment programs. "You can fine them [those convicted of DWI], but they don't have any money. You can take away their car, but they usually find another. If you haven't made up your mind that you want to deal with the problem, I'm not sure any treatment program would work. I don't care how good it is. What really can you do, more than keeping them in jail longer?"

    In early 2012, several New Mexico legislators and the state's governor supported a bill that would have increased penalties for those convicted of DWI four or more times. Under the legislation, the fourth conviction would lead to a 30-month prison sentence, up from 18, and the sentence for an eighth DWI conviction would increase to 12 years.

    While such legislation is at least drawing attention to the problem, many feel the penalties should be invoked at the first offence. Cynthia Delgado of New Mexico Underage Drinking Prevention Alliance says DWI is a problem that begins before the fourth offence. "The perception is that the problem is repeat offenders with four or more offenses. That isn't where the problem is, despite the fact that the governor backed legislation to increase penalties among those people . . . legislation was focused on the public outrage and not the actual problem," said Delgado.

    As the state looks to technology, such as ignition interlock, secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring, and Transdermal alcohol testing devices to hold offenders accountable, more agree that stricter penalties alone may not be enough to stop the problem.

    "We have to get smarter than these offenders. . . This is a beautiful state and we can do better, people," said Linda Atkinson, co-founder and director of the DWI Resource Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a supporter of strict laws in conjunction with other intervention plans.

  2. New York: Court upends 9-year fight on housing mentally ill
    New York (04/06/2012) Mosi Secret

    On Friday, April 6, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit struck down an order that New York State transfer thousands of mentally ill adults in New York City from institutional group homes into their own apartments and homes.

    The decision was made on procedural grounds, holding that the nonprofit group that brought the suit against the state, Disability Advocates, did not have standing to sue. The opinion essentially returns the litigation to its starting point without resolving or addressing the underlying issues of how the state is obligated to care for such patients.

    The three judge panel said in its opinion, "[w]e are not unsympathetic to the concern that our disposition will delay the resolution of this controversy and impose substantial burdens and transition costs on the parties, their counsel, and the courts."

    Cliff Zucker, executive director for Disability Advocates, indicated his organization will not try to seek a settlement with state officials. "We are hopeful that this administration has recognized that this is a problem that needs to be solved and we'll be able to solve it without recommencing litigation," he said.

    Josh Vlasto, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said on behalf of the administration,
    "[t]he governor's commitment to improving the quality of care for vulnerable populations and supporting opportunities for community living for people with disabling conditions is clear."

    [Editor's note: Read the Second Circuit Opinion [PDF - 149KB].]

  3. National: Steps set for livestock antibiotic ban
    New York Times (03/23/2012) Gardiner Harris

    On March 23, 2012 federal magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz of the Southern District of New York ruled that U.S. government must warn drug makers of a pending ban on agricultural uses of some popular antibiotics.

    In January 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced restrictions on agricultural uses of cephalosporins, a class of antibiotics commonly used to treat pneumonia, strep throat, and skin and urinary tract infections. This class of antibiotics is often used as a bulk additive to animal feed for pigs, cattle, and chickens to improve growth. Farmers and ranchers, however, maintain that the antibiotics are not used to promote animal growth, but are in fact used to prevent diseases.

    Many scientists say use of the antibiotics in agricultural products encourages the spread of dangerous infection, immunity to the drugs and, subsequently, a potential public health crisis. Thus far, the FDA has not proposed restrictions on antibiotic uses to prevent diseases and Judge Katz's ruling does not extend to disease prevention uses.

    An FDA spokeswoman, Siobhan DeLanecey, would not comment on whether the FDA plans to appeal Judge Katz's ruling, saying "[w]e are studying the opinion and considering appropriate next steps."

    [Editor's note: Read Magistrate Judge Katz's Opinion.]

  4. National: U.S. Loses Indonesia clove cigarette appeal at WTO
    Yahoo! Health (04/04/2012) Tom Miles and Doug Palmer

    On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, a World Trade Organization (WTO) appellate court ruled that the U.S. had unfairly discriminated against imports of Indonesian clove cigarettes by continuing to allow the sale of similar products such as menthol cigarettes. U.S. law prohibits sale and production of flavored cigarettes, including but not limited to cinnamon, strawberry, vanilla, and clove. Currently, menthol cigarettes are the only flavored cigarette product allowed in the U.S.

    Indonesia, the global market leader in clove cigarette production and formerly a major supplier to the U.S., brought the WTO suit against the U.S. in 2010 arguing the ban was discriminatory to international trade and unnecessary.

    In September 2011, a WTO panel agreed the ban was discriminatory but disagreed that it was unnecessary. In January 2012, the U.S. appealed the September 2011 ruling, which resulted in the current ruling.

    The WTO ruling alone does not have the authority to modify or repeal U.S. law.

    [Editor's note: Read the U.S. law banning flavored cigarettes, 21 U.S.C. § 321(rr), and find more information regarding the WTO ruling.]

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Briefly Noted

  1. Arizona: Law bans shackling of pregnant inmates during delivery, transportation
    Brewer OKs limits on shackling pregnant inmates
    Arizona Capitol Times (03/21/2012)
  2. California: Group says law created to protect mental health patients ineffective
    California's mental health commitment law is target of taskforce
    Los Angeles Times (04/08/2012) Lee Romney
  3. Florida: Caylee's law, third-degree felony to give false information re: missing child
    Casey Anthony case: Florida governor signs ‘Caylee's Law'
    Orlando Sentinel (04/06/2012) Michael Peltier
  4. Idaho: Medical personnel to provide life-prolonging care when requested by patient
    Gov. Otter signs end-of-life treatment bill
    Idaho Statesman (04/07/2012)
  5. Kansas: Decrease in alcohol-related traffic deaths may be tied to new law
    Alcohol-related traffic deaths drop in Kansas, Transportation Department reports
    Kansas City Star (04/08/2012)
  6. Michigan: State proposal seeks federal ok for elderly in-home care programs
    Michigan health officials seek to create long-term care system for elderly
    Detroit News (4/07/2012) Chad Livengood
  7. Pennsylvania: Wine shipping bill passed by Senate may dry up in House
    Amendments slow Pennsylvania wine-shipping bill
    PennLive.com (04/09/2012) Sue Gleiter
  8. Pennsylvania: Authorities grapple with bath salts and other illegal drugs despite ban
    Pennsylvania law, Drug Enforcement Administration ban put a squeeze on bath salts usage
    PennLive.com (04/08/2012) Monica Von Dobeneck
  9. Rhode Island: Pooch relegated to passenger seat under bill
    RI bill would shoo dogs from driver's laps
    Providence Journal (04/09/2012) Mike McKinney
  10. National: FDA panel assesses tobacco industry's latest product, dissolvable tobacco
    FDA panel: Dissolvable tobacco could reduce risks
    Boston.com (03/22/2012) Michael Felberbaum
  11. National: SCOTUS visits issue of benefits for children conceived after parent's death
    Supreme Court wrestles with survivors benefits
    Los Angeles Times (03/19/2012) David G. Savage

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Court Opinions

  1. Alabama: Fire Marshal authority to adopt building regs. limited to fire safety
    Ridnour v. Brownlow Homebuilders, Inc.
    Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama
    Case No. 2100851
    Decided March 16, 2012
    Opinion by Judge Terry A. Moore
  2. Illinois: Negligence under Nursing Home Care Act affirmed
    Graves v. Rosewood Care Center, Inc.
    Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth Circuit
    Case No. 5-10-0033
    Decided February 24, 2012; Motion to Publish granted April 2, 2012
    Opinion by Justice Richard P. Goldenhersh
  3. Federal: Death row MSJ for misbranded/unapproved lethal injection drugs
    Beaty v. Food and Drug Administration
    United States District Court, District of Columbia
    Civil Case No. 11-289(RJL)
    Decided on March 27, 2012
    Opinion by District Judge Richard J. Leon
  4. Federal: Additional styrene records used in carcinogen review to be made available
    Styrene Information and Research Center, Inc. v. Sebelius
    United States District Court, District of Columbia
    Civil Action No. 11-1079(RBW)
    Decided March 30, 2012
    Opinion by District Judge Reggie B. Walton
  5. Federal: City may not prohibit tobacco advertisements to prevent lawful purchase
    National Association of Tobacco Outlets, Inc. v. City of Worcester, Massachusetts
    United States District Court, Massachusetts Division
    Case No. 11-40110-DPW
    Decided March 31, 2012
    Opinion by District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock
  6. Federal: Town's actions regarding potentially dangerous homes legally justified
    Roc F. Sansotta v. Town of Nags Head
    United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina, Northern Division
    Case No. 2:10-CV-29-D
    Decided March 28, 2012
    Opinion by District Judge James C. Denver, III
  7. Federal: Psoriasis drug manufacturer's MSJ denied
    Massa v. Genetech, Inc.
    United States District court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division
    Civil Action No. H-11-70
    Filed March 19, 2012
    Opinion by District Judge Melinda Harmon
  8. Federal: Tobacco health warnings held constitutional
    Discount Tobacco City & Lottery v. U.S.
    United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
    Case Nos. 10-5234 and 10-5235
    Filed March 19, 2012
    Opinion by Judge Eric E. Clay

About Public Health Law News

The CDC Public Health Law News is published the third Thursday of each month except holidays, plus special issues when warranted. It is distributed only in electronic form and is free of charge.

The News is published by the CDC Public Health Law Program in the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support.

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Disclaimers

News content is selected solely on the basis of newsworthiness and potential interest to readers. CDC and HHS assume no responsibility for the factual accuracy of the items presented from other sources. The selection, omission, or content of items does not imply any endorsement or other position taken by CDC or HHS. Opinions expressed by the original authors of items included in the News, or persons quoted therein, are strictly their own and are in no way meant to represent the opinion or views of CDC or HHS. References to products, trade names, publications, news sources, and non-CDC Web sites are provided solely for informational purposes and do not imply endorsement by CDC or HHS. Legal cases are presented for educational purposes only, and are not meant to represent the current state of the law. The findings and conclusions reported in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of CDC or HHS. The News is in the public domain and may be freely forwarded and reproduced without permission. The original news sources and the CDC Public Health Law News should be cited as sources. Readers should contact the cited news sources for the full text of the articles.

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