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October 2012 - CDC Public Health Law News

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Thursday, October 18, 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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  1. Journal article on local legal infrastructure. “Local Legal Infrastructure and Population Health,” by Julia F. Costich and Dana J. Patton, was published in the American Journal of Public Health: October 2012, Vol. 102, No. 10, pp. 1936–41. The paper, supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, explores the association between the legal infrastructure of local public health, as expressed in the exercise of local fiscal and legislative authority, and local population health outcomes. The analyses suggested that public health legal infrastructure, particularly reformed county government, had a significant effect on population health status as a mediator of social determinants of health. Because states shape the legal infrastructure of local public health through power-sharing arrangements, the findings suggested recommendations for state legislation that positions local public health systems for optimal impact. Find more information and access the article for free.
  2. Journal article on New Jersey’s HIV exposure laws. “New Jersey’s HIV Exposure Law and the HIV-Related Attitudes, Beliefs, and Sexual and Seropositive Status Disclosure Behaviors of Persons Living With HIV,” by Carol L. Galletly, Laura Glasman, Steven D. Pinkerton, and Wayne DiFranceisco will be published in the American Journal of Public Health. The paper, supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, explores associations between awareness of New Jersey’s HIV exposure law and the HIV-related attitudes, beliefs, and sexual and seropositive status disclosure behaviors of HIV-positive persons. Fifty-one percent of participants knew about the HIV exposure law. This awareness was not associated with increased sexual abstinence, condom use with most recent partner, or seropositive status disclosure. Contrary to hypotheses, people unaware of the law experienced greater stigma and were less comfortable with positive serostatus disclosure. Criminalizing nondisclosure of HIV serostatus does not reduce sexual risk behavior. Although the laws do not appear to increase stigma, they are also not likely to reduce HIV transmission. Find more information and access the article for free.
  3. Job opening with North Carolina General Assembly. The North Carolina General Assembly’s Research Division seeks a Medicaid/Mental Health Staff Attorney/Legislative Analyst to serve as legal counsel and staff to standing and study committees of the House and Senate in the North Carolina General Assembly, specifically working with Health and Human Services Appropriations Committees and Subcommittees. This employee will provide legal counsel and advice to General Assembly members individually and collectively on the structure and delivery of Medicaid programs and services within the framework of state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Applicants must have a strong working knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the United States Supreme Court Olmstead decision and their applicability to health and mental health services. This employee will work collaboratively with the staffs of the Fiscal Research and Bill Drafting Divisions. Application packet (cover, resume, application, transcripts, and references) must be submitted by October 23, 2012, at 5:00 pm. Find more information and apply for the position [PDF - 50KB].
  4. Call for Nominations: Foundations of Health Law. The American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics (ASLME) and the Association of American Law Schools Section on Law, Medicine & Health Care seeks nominations of foundational works of scholarship in health law, very broadly defined, published in English before December 31, 2010. ASLME intends to publish an edited volume in an academic press. Nominations must be accompanied by a brief description, not to exceed 300 words, of the importance of the scholarly work, addressed to: Ted Hutchinson, Executive Director, American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 765 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02445. The first round of nominations will close on December 31, 2012. Find more information about the call for nominations.
  5. The American Public Health Association (APHA) is hosting the 140th Annual Meeting and Expo on October 27-31, 2012, in San Francisco, California. APHA and the Partnership for Public Health Law created a guide to help meeting attendees with a special interest in public health law and related public policy issues. Find more information and access the guide.

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Legal Tools

  1. The Public Health Law Program’s Public Health Law Bench Book collection is a valuable tool for public health law practitioners. Bench books are functional practice guides designed to accelerate judges’ understanding of an area of law. Courts in most states typically have civil and criminal law bench books. Some devote a portion to a treatise-like discussion of public health law intended for use by the judiciary; public health officials; state and local public health attorneys; and the public. This month, the Public Health Law Program added South Carolina’s new Public Health Emergency bench book [PDF - 701KB]. Find South Carolina’s bench book [PDF - 700KB] and others in the Public Health Law Program’s bench book collection.
  2. The Public Health Law Research Program launched a new tool for providing access to public health law research, The portal allows visitors to explore variation in laws by state and over time. The site provides access to data that maps laws relating to specific current public health issues like distracted driving, syringe exchange, overdose prevention, and sports concussions, with many more to come in the near future. Find more information and access
  3. The Network for Public Health Law released a 50-state survey of tattoo ink safety regulations and statutes. The survey is a valuable tool for boards of health and legislative bodies that are considering promulgating tattoo regulations and need to be aware of existing regulations. Find more information and access the 50-state survey [PDF - 480KB].

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Top Stories

  1. New Jersey: Anti-bullying events at NJ schools—since 2011 it’s the law

    Inquirer (10/05/2012) Rita Giordano

    New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights became law in early 2011 and has been hailed as one of the strongest state bullying prevention laws in the US. The first week of October 2012 marks the second annual Week of Respect for New Jersey children. Public and charter schools are required to teach children how to prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

    New Jersey’s law defines bullying and explains how to investigate and address suspected bullying. In addition to outlining action plans, the law requires school districts to report harassment, intimidation, and bullying to the state.

    According to the first annual bullying report to the state, more than 12,000 harassment, intimidation, and bullying incidents occurred in the 2011–2012 school year. While some educators argue that the numbers may be high due to the newness of the report and interest in reporting, anti-bullying advocates prefer over-reporting to under-reporting. “Reporting has gone up, and that’s a good thing. Reporting is key,” said Valerie Vainieri Huttle, New Jersey Assemblywoman and key supporter of the bill.

    While the impact of the law is still being assessed, a task force appointed to follow the law’s implementation and offer guidance to school districts has met three times. “We’re still in our getting-information mode,” said Patricia Wright, chair of the task force and director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

    [Editor’s note: Find more information about New Jersey’s anti-bullying programs and Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.]

  2. California: Prop. 37 will test California’s appetite for GMO food

    Huffington Post (10/06/2012) Alicia Chang

    In November California will vote whether to require specific raw and processed foods to carry labels denoting genetic engineering. The measure, Proposition 37 (Prop. 37), would also preclude advertisements claiming that genetically altered food is “natural.”

    Over the past 10 years, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been an integral part of the farming industry. Many crops cultivated in the US, including soybeans, sugar beets, cotton, and corn, have been genetically altered to increase their resistance to insects and pesticides. Most GMO crops are used to feed animals, but some are ingredients in processed foods like cereal, potato chips, and cookies.

    Those in favor of Prop. 37 say consumers have a right to know what is in the food they purchase so they may make informed decisions. “They’re fed up. They want to know what’s in their food,” said Stacy Malkan, spokeswoman for the California Right to Know campaign.

    Currently, large international food and chemical manufacturing companies have donated about $35 million to defeat Prop. 37. Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman for the No on 37 campaign, said the labels will confuse shoppers and be misinterpreted. “It’s not necessary. Worse, it leaves people with the impression that there’s something wrong with the food. That’s not the case,” said Fairbanks.

    GMO plants and animals are approved individually by the federal government. The US Department of Agriculture does not allow the use of GMO plants that may harm other plants. The US Food and Drug Administration may only require labeling of GMO status if the alterations to the food make it different from other, non-engineered versions, such as changing the smell or taste. If the measure passes, California will become the first state to require disclosure of genetic modification.

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Briefly Noted

  1. California: New law bans ‘nonscientific therapies’
    California is first state to ban gay ‘cure’ for minors
    New York Times (09/30/2012) Erik Eckholm
  2. California: County struggles to address symptoms of homelessness
    Law against smelling bad is among many Orange County ordinances targeting the homeless
    Mercury News (10/08/2012) Gillian Flaccus
  3. Maryland: 2012 law gives state oversight and may lower lead poisoning cases
    Survey shows fewer Maryland children suffered lead poisoning in 2011
    Baltimore Sun (10/04/2012) Yvonne Wenger
    [Editor’s note: Learn more about Maryland’s lead poisoning prevention plan and laws.]
  4. New York: Few parents resist school contraceptive program
    More access to contraceptives in city schools
    New York Times (09/23/2012) Anemona Hartocollis
  5. National: States begin implementing PPACA provisions
    Liking it or not, states prepare for health law
    New York Times (09/23/2012) Abby Goodnough
  6. National: In wake of fungal meningitis outbreak, pharmacies scrutinized
    Illnesses fuel scrutiny of pharmacies
    Wall Street Journal (10/04/2012) Jonathan D. Rockoff and Timothy W. Martin
    [Editor’s note: Read the US Food and Drug Administration statement and learn more about fungal meningitis.]
  7. National: Peanut butter salmonella recall extended to other products, tahini, gelato
    Peanut butter recall expands as salmonella outbreak worsens (10/08/2012)
    [Editor’s note: Find more information about the FDA’s recall of peanut butter made by Sunland, Inc.]
  8. International: HIV positive people not required to disclose status to partners
    Canada Supreme Court eases HIV disclosure law
    BBC (10/05/2012)

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Court Opinions

  1. Massachusetts: Hospitals’ claims for reimbursement barred by sovereign immunity
    Boston Medical Center Corp. v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services
    Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk Division
    Case No: SJC-11139
    Filed Sept. 14, 2012
    Opinion by Justice Ralph D. Gants
  2. Missouri: Smoking liability case remanded for trial on punitive damages
    Smith v. Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp.
    Court of appeals of Missouri, Western District
    Case No. WD71918, Consolidated with WD71919
    Filed Oct. 2, 2012
    Opinion by Judge Joseph M. Elli
  3. Federal: UC Berkeley smoking ban covered by sovereign immunity
    James B. Porter v. Tom Bates
    United States District Court, Northern District of California
    Case No: C-12-3523 EMC
    Filed on Sept. 11, 2012
    Opinion by Judge Edward M. Chen
  4. Federal: Ambulance Co.’s class-of-one claim fails, not similarly situated
    Medicone Medical Response v. Marion County Emergency Telephone System Board [PDF - 82KB]
    United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois
    Case No. 11-CV-1067-DRH-PMF
    Filed Sept. 13, 2012
    Opinion by Chief Judge David R. Herndon

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Quotation of the Month: Scott Mather, Director of Haven, a program assisting chronically homeless people in Orange County, California.

“They become very clever about it and try to blanket it because they say ‘strong aroma’ could be perfume also, but in the end it's an attempt to keep people out of where the neighborhood and community folks feel uncomfortable," said Scott Mather of new laws and policies that ban what some feel are symptoms of homelessness.

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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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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