Public Health Law News

July 2017

Letter from the Editor

When the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago, the battle for America was only half won. Defeating the British and establishing a new nation would require perseverance, forethought, and above all, teamwork. Future Americans did not always agree on the best plan of action, but they agreed on their end goal. As a result, they secured the victories that created the country we now call the United States.

Similarly, we must remember our shared aim of protecting and promoting the public’s health. We live in many different places and possess a range of titles and skills, but by working together, we can create a healthier United States.

The Fifty Nifty (our listing of public health law news from every state in the nation) celebrates Independence Day and the unique authority and role states have in our national public health system. As the Public Health Law Program (PHLP) staff members collect the stories each July, we are struck by each state’s unique response to public health concerns. We are also inspired by the public health workforce’s dedication to creating better and more sustainable public health outcomes in their communities. We are incredibly thankful to work with not just states, but all US public health jurisdictions.

This year’s Fifty Nifty is dedicated to our readers in every state. Thank you for never losing sight of our goal.

Happy Independence Day,

F. Abigail Ferrell, JD, MPA
Editor in Chief


Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald Named as 17th CDC Director and ATSDR Administratorexternal icon. The US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD, has named Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, as the 17th director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). She officially joined CDC July 7. As commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health for the past six years, Dr. Fitzgerald oversaw the state’s public health programs and directed its 18 public health districts and 159 county health departments. A board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Fitzgerald has practiced medicine for three decades. She is an expert in medicine, public health, policy, and leadership—all of which will prove vital as she leads the CDC in its work to protect America’s health 24/7.

Webinar: Sharing Data: Modern Legal Issues and Trendsexternal icon. PHLP and the American Health Lawyers Association are cosponsoring the third and final webinar of a series called The Intersection of Public Health and Healthcare: Healthcare Data and the Law in the 21st Century. The webinar will address issues related to privacy and data-sharing agreements. It will also discuss the legal implications of sharing data during disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. This free webinar will take place August 9, 2017, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (EDT).

Webinar: Introducing the StrongHearts Native Helpline: Supporting Native Survivors of Domestic Violence and Dating Violenceexternal icon. This webinar will provide an overview of the StrongHearts Native Helpline’s services and its Native-centered advocacy approach. Participants will learn how StrongHearts supports American Indian and Alaska Native victim-survivors of domestic and dating violence, as well as greater tribal communities and organizations. This webinar will take place July 26 from 2:30 to 3:30 pm (EDT).

Menu of State Healthcare Facility Hepatitis B Vaccination Laws. PHLP has published a menu about hepatitis B vaccination requirements for patients and workers in healthcare facilities. This resource can be used by researchers or practitioners interested in comparing specific hepatitis B vaccination requirements across states.

Rudd Center Snack F.A.C.T.S and Baby Food F.A.C.T.S.: The Rudd Center has published two reports that analyze food marketing and nutrition in the United States. According to Baby Food F.A.C.T.S.: Nutrition and Marketing of Baby and Toddler Food and Drinks pdf icon[PDF – 5.99MB]external icon, many marketing messages imply that commercially prepared baby and toddler foods are more nutritious than breast milk for babies and whole milk and table food for toddlers. Snack F.A.C.T.S.: Evaluating Snack Food Nutrition and Marketing to Youth pdf icon[PDF – 8.5MB]external icon reports that most snacks that met the US Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks standards were not advertised to children and teens.

Journal Article: Collaborating for Health: Health in All Policies and the Law pdf icon[PDF – 153KB]external icon. Health in All Policies (HiAP) broadens the public health policy approach by considering behavioral and lifestyle factors in addition to the biological basis of health. HiAP highlights the importance of collaboration between sectors. This article discusses the concept of HiAP and explores emerging trends in HiAP law.

Journal Article: Personally Identifiable Information in State Laws: Use, Release, and Collaboration at Health Departmentsexternal icon. CDC and the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium reviewed state-level provisions regarding the use and release of personally identifiable information (PII) in August of 2013. They concluded that health departments in states with PII use-and-release laws should work with legal counsel to assess their current laws and update provisions that may impede program effectiveness.

2017 APHA Conferenceexternal icon. The American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Conference provides opportunities to learn from the latest research and practice, conduct hands-on assessments of new tools and services, and network with industry experts. This year’s conference, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health,” will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, November 4–8, 2017.

Legal Tools

Revenue Calculator for Sugary Drink Taxesexternal icon. This calculator estimates the annual revenue a jurisdiction could receive from excise taxes on sugary drinks. Users input a year, city or state, tax amount per ounce, and “pass-through” rate. Current sugar-sweetened beverage laws tax the sales of sodas, juices, sports drinks, certain bottled teas and coffees, energy drinks, and other beverages that contain added sugars. Diet drinks are not included.

Introduction to Public Health Preparedness Lawexternal icon. The National Association of County & City Health Officials recently released a learning module to help public health professionals incorporate public health law into emergency preparedness planning, response, and recovery efforts.

The Fifty Nifty!

Alabama: Alabama residents left with one insurance option under ACAexternal icon
PBS NewsHour   (06/17/2017)   Christopher Booker and Connie Kargbo

Alaska: New law addressing opioid epidemic awaits governor’s signatureexternal icon
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner   (06/27/2017)
[Editor’s note: Read Alaska’s H.B. 159external icon.]

Arizona: It’s Really Hot in the Southwestexternal icon
U.S. News and World Report   (06/19/2017)   Clarice Silber and Josh Hoffner

Arkansas: Arkansas Mental Health Court Act law goes into effect Aug. 1external icon
Times Record   (06/25/2017)   John Lovett
[Editor’s Note: Read the Mental Health Specialty Court Act of 2017 (H.B. 1663) pdf icon[PDF – 204KB]external icon.]

California: Surprise medical bills prohibited by new California law – if you follow the rulesexternal icon
Merced Sun-Star   (06/26/2017)   Emily Bazar
[Editor’s Note: Read California’s A.B. 72external icon.]

Colorado: Hold the phone. Did Colorado just make it legal to text and drive?external icon
Denver Post   (06/20/17)   John Frank
[Editor’s Note: Read Colorado’s S.B. 17-027 pdf icon[PDF – 212KB]external icon.]

Connecticut: Crash database developed at UConn gets national attentionexternal icon
UConn Today   (06/21/2017)   Colin Poitras
[Editor’s Notes: See the Connecticut Crash Data Repositoryexternal icon.]

Delaware: Governor Carney signs package of legislation to combat addiction crisis external icon   (05/30/2017)
[Editor’s Note: Read Delaware’s S.B. 41external icon, H.B. 91external icon, and H.B. 100external icon.]

Florida: Florida institutes mandatory minimums for fentanyl possessionexternal icon
Governing   (06/19/2017)   Zac Anderson
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about fentanyl and read Florida’s H.B. 477external icon.]

Georgia: Q&A: Georgia’s new paid sick leave lawexternal icon
The National Law Review   (06/28/2017)   Dara L. DeHaven and Luke Donohue
[Editor’s Note: Read Georgia’s S.B. 242 pdf icon[PDF – 10.9KB]external icon.]

Hawaii: Hawaii’s work to ease homeless making progress, federal official saysexternal icon
Honolulu Star Advertiser   (06/22/2017)   Dan Nakaso
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about the Homeless Programexternal icons.]

Idaho: Local hospitals prepare for influx of people during eclipseexternal icon
East Idaho News   (06/25/2017)   Carrie Snider
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how law can be used as an emergency preparedness and hospital preparedness tool.]

Illinois: 7th Circuit affirms summary judgment for dominant Illinois hospital and its exclusive contractsexternal icon
The National Law Review   (06/16/2017)   Steven J. Cernak
[Editor’s Note: Read Methodist Health Services Corp v. OSF Healthcare System Saint Francis Medical Centerexternal icon.]

Indiana: Trump picks Indiana health commissioner for surgeon generalexternal icon
The Washington Post (06/29/2017) Lenny Bernstein

Iowa: Medical marijuana applications available todayexternal icon
KCRG News   (06/19/2017)  WOI
[Editor’s Note: Read the Medical Cannabidiol Actexternal icon.]

Kansas: Telemedicine could expand health care access in Kansas, but insurers balk at payment parityexternal icon
KCUR   (06/20/2017)   Bryan Thompson

Kentucky: OxyContin maker urges judges to stop release of secret marketing recordsexternal icon
STAT   (06/26/2017)   David Armstrong
[Editor’s Note: Full article available by subscription]

Louisiana: Bill to combat opioid abuse signed into law, limits prescriptions, aims to stop ’doctor shopping’external icon
The Advocate   (06/12/2017)   Rebekah Allen
[Editor’s Note: Read Louisiana’s H.B. 192external icon, S.B. 55external icon, H.B. 490external icon.]

Maine: Maine legislature overrides governor’s veto and passes safe drinking water lawexternal icon
Environmental Health Strategy Center (06/19/2017)
[Editor’s Note: Read Maine’s L.D. 454.external icon]

Maryland: Baltimore City running low on opioid overdose remedyexternal icon
The Baltimore Sun   (06/18/2017)   Meredith Cohn
[Editor’s Note: Read more about Maryland’s statewide standing order for naloxone dispensingexternal icon.]

Massachusetts: Pharmacist gets 9-year prison term in deadly meningitis outbreakexternal icon
New York Times   (06/26/2017)   Jess Bidgood
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about meningitis.]

Michigan: 5 charged with involuntary manslaughter in Flint water crisisexternal icon
New York Times   (06/14/2017)   Scott Atkinson and Monica Davey
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about lead.]

Minnesota: Minnesota liquor stores gear up for the start of Sunday salesexternal icon
StarTribune   (06/24/2017)   Erin Golden

Mississippi: Mississippi county considers tax for air ambulance coverage external icon
US News   (06/28/2017)   Jonathan Rosenfield

Missouri: Time ticking down on Missouri prescription drug programexternal icon
St. Louis Post-Dispatch   (06/28/2017)   Kurt Erickson

Montana: Montana groups, including Lee Newspapers, challenge ‘victim’s bill of rights’ Marsy’s Lawexternal icon
Missoulian   (06/27/2017)   Jayme Fraser
[Editor’s note: Read Montana’s Constitutional Initiative No. 116 pdf icon[PDF – 74KB]external icon, establishing specific rights for crime victims.]     

Nebraska: Statewide vanpool program to begin in Nebraskaexternal icon
Lincoln Journal Star   (06/28/2017)
[Editor’s Note: Read the CDC Recommendations for Improving Health Through Transportation Policy pdf icon[PDF – 93KB].]

Nevada: Nevada governor vetoes “Medicaid-for-all” billexternal icon
The Los Angeles Times   (06/17/2017)   David Montero
[Editor’s Note: Read Nevada’s A.B. 374.external icon]

New Hampshire: Overdose victims now an increasing source of organ donationsexternal icon
New Hampshire Public Radio   (06/19/2017)   Associated Press
[Editor’s Note: Read Organ Donation Legislation and Policyexternal icon.]

New Jersey: Last remaining state banning the sale of home-baked goods external icon
Food and Wine   (06/20/2017)   Mike Pomranz
[Editor’s Note: Read New Jersey’s S. 1768external icon.]                                                      

New Mexico: Health Secretary rejects medical cannabis expansionexternal icon
KUNM   (06/15/2017)

New York: Cuomo signs bill doing away with child marriage in New York Stateexternal icon
CBS   (06/21/2017)   CBS/AP
[Editor’s Note: Read New York’s S.B. S4407external icon.]

North Carolina: How safe and sanitary is ‘body art?’ Laws regulating tattoos, piercing vary widelyexternal icon
Washington Post   (06/25/2017)   Marsha Mercer
[Editor’s Note: Read North Carolina’s H.B. 250external icon.]

North Dakota: A surprising court ruling could ‘reset the clock’ on the Dakota Access Pipelineexternal icon
Business Insider   (06/16/2017)   Erin Brodwin
[Editor’s Note: Read Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. US Army Corps of Engineers pdf icon[PDF – 422KB]external icon.]

Ohio: Agency’s top lawyer will lead state health departmentexternal icon
The Columbus Dispatch   (06/20/2017)   Randy Ludlow

Oklahoma: Oklahoma cigarette fee under fireexternal icon
The Tax Foundation   (06/26/2017)   Courtney Shupert
[Editor’s Note: Read Smoking Cessation and Prevention Act of 2017external icon.]

Oregon: Roadkill can be harvested for food under new Oregon lawexternal icon
ABC 7   (06/22/2017)   Associated Press
[Editor’s Note: Read Oregon’s S.B. 372external icon.]

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania puts more teeth in child endangerment lawexternal icon
The Morning Call   (06/29/2017)   Associated Press
[Editor’s Note: Read Pennsylvania’s H.B. 217external icon.]

Rhode Island: Rhode Island Senate passes bill to speed regulatory review of hospital dealsexternal icon
Providence Journal   (06/20/2017)   Lynn Arditi       
[Editor’s Note: Read Rhode Island’s S. 0937 pdf icon[PDF -23KB]external icon.]

South Carolina: South Carolina Governor signs bill expanding how doctors can use telehealth techniquesexternal icon
Statescoop   (06/09/2017)   Alex Koma
[Editor’s Note: Read South Carolina’s S.B. 1035external icon.]

South Dakota: Some South Dakota counties ban fireworks due to droughtexternal icon
KDLT News   (06/28/2017)   Adel Toay

Tennessee: Tennessee counties sue opioid makers using local “crack tax” lawexternal icon
Mintpress News   (06/17/2017)
[Editor’s Note: Read the Drug Dealer Liability Act pdf icon[PDF – 43KB]external icon.]

Texas: Discarded Texas health forms breach may affect about 2,000external icon
SFGate   (06/16/2017)   Associated Press

Utah: Mental illness in Utah jails: how wait times for treatment harm inmates external icon
Utah Public Radio   (06/26/2017)   Katherine Taylor

Vermont: Telemedicine at home: new Vermont law expands health insurance for 21st-century treatmentexternal icon
VPR   (06/7/2017)   Taylor Dobbs
[Editor’s Note: Read Vermont’s S.B. 50 pdf icon[PDF – 68KB]external icon.]

Virginia: New law requires Virginia colleges to provide counseling after student suicidesexternal icon   (06/21/2017)   Mai-Lan Spiegel
[Editor’s Note: Read Virginia’s S.B. 1430external icon.]                      

Washington: Washington enacts biometrics lawexternal icon
Lexology   (06/26/2017)   Liisa M. Thomas, Robert H. Newman, and Kristofer A. Ekdahl
[Editor’s Note: Read Washington’s H.B. 1493 pdf icon[PDF – 38KB]external icon.]

West Virginia: Drug firms seek dismissal of local lawsuits in West Virginiaexternal icon
Herald-Dispatch   (06/22/2017)   Courtney Hessler

Wisconsin: Wisconsin city may use buses to catch distracted driversexternal icon
ABC2/   (06/19/17)   Associated Press

Wyoming: Wyoming emergency responders prepare for solar eclipse crowdsexternal icon
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle   (06/12/2017)   Becky Orr

District of Columbia: Report: D.C. showing modest gains in curbing HIVexternal icon
Washington Times   (06/27/2017)   Laura Kelly
[Editor’s Note: Read the 2017 HAHSTA Annual Report pdf icon[PDF – 523KB]external icon.]

Tribal: ’The system was set up to fail’: tribes try to regain control of their land and futuresexternal icon
The Guardian   (06/24/17)   Kathleen McLaughlin

National: Judge orders review of Dakota pipeline in victory for Standard Rock Tribeexternal icon
BuzzFeed News   (06/14/17)   Brianna Sacks

Profile in Public Health Law: Marlene Schwartz
Photo: Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity

Title: Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesityexternal icon and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut

Education: PhD, Yale University

Public Health Law News (PHLN): What sparked your interest in nutrition?

Schwartz: I’ve always been interested in nutrition, but this increased when I was a graduate student in clinical psychology at Yale because one of the training clinics was a specialty clinic for obesity and eating disorders. Even though I was providing psychotherapy, I needed to learn a lot about nutrition to help my patients. People came in with many misguided ideas about how to eat based on the popular press and the media, so I wanted to make sure I was providing scientifically sound advice.

PHLN: Please describe your career path.

Schwartz: It actually looks like the social ecological model. I started off working with individuals and families, then moved onto community settings like childcare centers and schools, and now I study public policy.

After I finished my PhD, my first job was co-director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. I did that for many years and really loved it—I enjoyed working with clients and training graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Over time, however, we started seeing more children with obesity. And as I worked with them and their families, I realized that I could provide education, strategies, and motivation during our sessions, but the minute they left my office, the outside world was pushing them in the opposite direction. My young clients told me stories about how hard it was to find healthy foods at school, and I started to see a troubling school food environment for myself when I was with my own young children at school. So I decided to switch my focus to working in schools and studying ways to improve the school nutrition environment through the national school lunch program, competitive food policies, and school wellness policies. This later led to similar work in childcare centers, where we tested strategies to increase fruit and vegetable consumption with young children and encouraged childcare settings to have wellness policies, too. I’ve done a lot of research at the state level in Connecticut and have had the opportunity to compare our findings with colleagues in other states, as well as colleagues who do national studies. This has helped me appreciate the differences among states and the potential of state and federal policies to make meaningful changes in people’s diets.

PHLN: Please tell us more about the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. What are some of its main projects at the moment?

Schwartz: The Rudd Center’s work is organized around the core faculty members, and I’m fortunate to have three wonderful colleagues who, like me, have been at the Rudd Center most of their careers.

Dr. Rebecca Puhl is the deputy director, and her research focuses on reducing weight bias. She has studied topics such as weight-based bullying in youth, weight bias in health care and the media, interventions to reduce weight bias, and the impact of weight stigma on emotional and physical health.

Dr. Jennifer Harris is the director of marketing initiatives, and she leads a large project documenting the amount of food marketing directed at youth and how marketing affects children’s diets and health. Currently, she is studying marketing that targets black and Hispanic youth and the role this plays in health disparities.

Dr. Tatiana Andreyeva is the director of economic initiatives, and her research includes evaluating the impact of changes in the federal food programs, including the Women, Infant, and Children program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. She is also the architect of our popular “Revenue Calculator for Sugary Drink Taxes,” an online tool that states and cities can use to estimate the revenue they would receive from a sugary drink tax.

In addition to these faculty members and their research staff, we have a director of communications and a director of advocacy resources to make sure our research findings get to the people who can use them. We have postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students who work with us to receive training in food policy research. All of us who work at the Rudd Center are passionate about what we do. We talk a lot about what parents need to raise healthy children, and I think the desire to help them is what keeps us going in this field.

PHLN: What is food insecurity?

Schwartz: Food insecurity is when someone does not have consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. While there is quite a lot of overlap between poverty and food insecurity, they aren’t the same thing. There are families who are below the poverty line but are able to access enough food, while there are other families who might be above the poverty line but have other expenses, such as medical expenses, that make it difficult for them to have enough money for food.

PHLN: What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

Schwartz: Food banks are warehouses that get donated or very low-cost food from retailers, farmers, and government programs and then distribute the food to individuals through community-based partner agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, and other community programs. One food bank might serve an entire city or a portion of a state. For example, Connecticut has only two food banks for the whole state. About 200 food banks belong to the national organization Feeding America.

Food pantries are smaller organizations where people come to get the food. They’re often run by nonprofit organizations, religious organizations, or schools and can be found in buildings throughout a community. Food pantries are quite variable—some are large and look almost like small grocery stores, while others might be closets in church basements. There are tens of thousands of food pantries in the United States.

This whole network is usually called the “emergency” or “charitable” food system. I prefer “charitable” because many families repeatedly use food pantries as a regular strategy to meet their food needs. The pantries aren’t being used only by people who have experienced an emergency, like a flood.

PHLN: Are there current regulations or nutrition standards for those who receive their meals from the food bank or food pantry?

Schwartz: There are no nutrition regulations or standards for the foods that flow through the charitable food system. The main metric this system uses to track its work is the number of pounds of food distributed.

PHLN: Without regulation, how do communities and organizations work to ensure food banks and food pantries offer nutritious fare?

Schwartz: This is an important question, and one I have been spending a lot of time thinking about. We’re currently trying to get a sense of what kinds of systems and policies are in place in food banks across the country. Some have policies limiting the kinds of products they’ll take, so for example, they might simply not accept donations of sugary drinks or candy. Other food banks use nutrition tracking systems to monitor what’s being accepted and distributed, so they can set nutrition goals and try to limit the volume of the less healthy options they accept. When I was on the board of directors of the Connecticut Food Bank, we set up a nutrition tracking system.

PHLN: What challenges do organizations face when trying to improve food bank and food pantry nutrition?

Schwartz: I had been working in the school wellness field for many years when I first joined the board of the Connecticut Food Bank. So, at first I thought that we could just use the same strategy we’d used to improve school nutrition—create a new policy to accept only healthy foods. I learned the hard way that a food bank’s culture is very different from a school system’s culture. While there was certainly some resistance to removing unhealthy beverages and snacks from schools, most people eventually understood that schools shouldn’t be selling junk food. In a food bank, the main mission is to distribute pounds of food, so the idea of refusing to accept some donations is completely foreign. Unlike schools, food banks feed adults and children, so there’s also worry about being paternalistic toward adults.

Another challenge is that food banks depend on the food industry, so they are concerned that saying anything negative about a particular category of food might offend a donor. Many donors provide both healthy and unhealthy foods, and initially I thought we could just say that we wanted only the healthy foods. The people working at the food bank didn’t want to do that because they were concerned that the donors would be insulted and refuse to give us any food at all. I’ve learned from other food banks over the years that it’s possible to educate your donors about your needs, and every story I’ve ever heard ended with the donor understanding the importance of healthy food and cooperating. But asking donors to limit what they provide requires the people working at the food bank to make a leap of faith, and I think a lot of those folks aren’t there yet.

PHLN: What do you think about the food insecurity and obesity paradox? How can food insecurity and obesity coexist?

Schwartz: There are a few different possible explanations for that. One is that people with limited amounts of money are looking for the most filling items they can afford, and the inexpensive items that seem like they’ll be the most filling are likely to be highly processed, packaged foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat. Another possible explanation is that when people aren’t sure when they’ll have their next meal, a natural response is to eat as much as they can when food is available. This could lead to a pattern of eating even when they’re not hungry, which could lead to weight gain.

PHLN: What are the common misperceptions among parents regarding nutrition choices for their children?

Schwartz: Food marketing directed at children and parents of young children can be very misleading. There is an implicit, and sometimes explicit, message that children don’t like healthy food and that parents should worry about their children getting enough food overall, and therefore should feed their children only food they like. If I could tell American parents one thing, it would be that you are in charge, and you have the power to create your child’s food environment at home. Children will eat whatever is normal to eat in their culture—look at what children eat all over the world and throughout history.

PHLN: What will the Rudd Center’s efforts be in the coming years to optimize parents’ food and activity choices for young children?

Schwartz: We’re very interested in influencing the food industry to stop marketing unhealthy foods to not just young children, but also children through age 14. Right now there is a self-regulation initiative called the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiativeexternal icon, which has led to some improvements in marketing that targets children up to age 11. Despite this, much more progress is needed, and for us, the most important thing is acknowledging that middle school-age children are still children and deserve protection from unhealthy food marketing.

PHLN: What advice would you give to parents who want to pick healthier choices for their family?

Schwartz: My advice is to focus on MyPlateexternal icon, have everyone in the family eat the same foods, and try to prepare meals at home and eat them together as a family as often as you can.

PHLN: In what directions do you see nutrition policy evolving?

Schwartz: I think we’ll start to see more overlap between concerns about nutrition and concerns about the agriculture system in general and the environment. For example, there are farm-to-school programs to help improve nutrition and support local farmers. This generation of children cares a lot about protecting the environment. For example, even though my husband and I are omnivores, all three of my children decided in high school to stop eating meat because they thought it was better for the environment.

PHLN: What is your favorite part of your job?

Schwartz: I feel really fortunate because I love my job. I think my favorite part is how no two days are the same. I’m now teaching an undergraduate course once a year at the University of Connecticut, so I get to interact with students, which is fun. I also have the opportunity to travel around the country to go to research and advocacy meetings and learn what people are doing to improve their own communities. I think what I love most is that almost all the people I interact with in my field are passionate about their work.

PHLN: What would you be doing if you weren’t in health policy or nutrition?

Schwartz: The only other thing I love as much as my work is musical theater. I have even thought that if I hadn’t gone into this field, I would have done a dissertation called something like, “The Representation of Women in Musical Theater—from Oklahoma to Wicked.” Nothing makes me happier than going into New York and seeing a show, and I love how musical theater can take on really complicated social issues and historical events and make them accessible to audiences of all ages. Maybe one day Lin-Manuel Miranda will read one of Michael Pollan’s books about the way we eat and get inspired!

Public Health Law News Quiz

The first reader to correctly answer the quiz question will be given a mini-public health law profile in the August 2017 edition of the News. Email your entry to with “PHL Quiz” as the subject heading; entries without the heading will not be considered. Good luck!

Public Health Law News Quiz Question July 2017

In which city and state will the 2017 American Public Health Association Conference take place?

Public Health Law News Quiz Question June 2017 Winner!
Photo: Aída L. Gerena-Ramos

Aida L. Gerena-Ramos, JD

Question: Which organization is PHLP partnering with to host a webinar on June 21, 2017?

Answer: PHLP hosted the webinar with the American Health Lawyers Association on June 21, 2017.

Employment organization and job title: 
Part-time undergraduate nursing professor at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico (UIPR) in Barranquitas and nursing consultant.

A brief explanation of your job:   
Teach nursing undergraduate-level courses and legal aspects of nursing courses since 2011 and serve as a legal and academic nursing consultant.

A juris doctor from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in nursing sciences, an associate degree in nursing, and an associate degree in arts from the University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo. Currently enrolled in the online MSN program (nurse educator track) at Sacred Heart University.

Favorite section of the News:
My favorites are the sections about legal cases and those related to new health policies and regulations at the different states and jurisdictions.

Why are you interested in public health law? 
Public health law holds the key to improving the quality of health care and the healthcare system, decreasing health disparities, and improving public health and safety through the development and enforcement of new health regulations and policies.

What is your favorite hobby?
I like to read, go to the beach, and spend time with family and friends.

Quote of the Month

Michael Crea, President, Florida Environmental Health Association

“You really don’t want people working out of their house,” he said. “We do deal with blood and body fluids. We break the skin. You can be spreading hepatitis, MRSA [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] or AIDS, and you don’t want that.” – Michael Crea, president of the Florida Environmental Health Association and licensed piercer, on the importance of regulating the tattoo and piercing industries.

The Public Health Law Newsis 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 Newsis published by the Public Health Law Program in the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support.


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Public Health Law News (the 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, persons quoted therein, or persons interviewed for the News 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 websites 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 Public Health Law News should be cited as sources. Readers should contact the cited news sources for the full text of the articles.

Page last reviewed: July 20, 2017