Public Health Law News

August 2021


Registration Now Open for 2021 Policy Surveillance Institute
The Center for Public Health Law Research will host its most comprehensive policy surveillance training of the year online on October 4–6. The Institute will teach each step in the policy surveillance process with virtual training from experts from the Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research using policy surveillance software and through collaborative exercises. Registration is limited and closes September 17. Learn more and registerexternal icon.

Policy Surveillance Training Webinar Series
Registration is now open for the introductory and advanced policy surveillance training webinars. The one-hour, free webinars hosted by the Center for Public Health Law Research introduce methods and applications for policy surveillance and scientific legal mapping. Learn more and registerexternal icon.

HIV Criminalization Laws and Ending the US HIV Epidemic
A recent analysis published in The Lancet shows that HIV criminalization laws in the United States present significant challenges to reducing HIV transmission and ending the HIV epidemic. Read moreexternal icon (subscription required).

North American Refugee Health Conference Registration Opens
The annual North American Refugee Health Conference, hosted by the University of Toronto, will take place virtually on September 9–11. This interdisciplinary event is open to professionals interested in refugee health. Register for this conferenceexternal icon.

2021 Public Health Law Conference Keynote Speaker Announced
The 2021 Public Health Law Conference, hosted by the Network for Public Health Law, will be held in Baltimore on September 21–23. The conference will provide an opportunity to learn how the strategic use of legal and policy tools can address fundamental drivers of inequity, promote health and well-being, and save lives. (Current cancellation policy allows for a full refund if pandemic conditions do not improve by fall.) Learn more and registerexternal icon.

APHA 2021 Registration Opens
The American Public Health Association (APHA) will hold its annual meeting and expo on October 24–27 in Denver and online. The theme of APHA 2021 is Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness. Learn more and registerexternal icon.

Public Health Law Academy Certificate
CDC and ChangeLab Solutions created the Public Health Law Academy to bridge the learning gap between formal public health and legal training and practice. The Academy now offers a certificate track for its free, on-demand trainings. To earn the certificate, you must complete seven trainings in core competencies that all public health practitioners need. The estimated completion time is 7.5 hours. Get startedexternal icon.

Maryland Journal of Health Care Law & Policy Accepting Submissions
The University of Maryland Journal of Health Care Law & Policy is open for submissions for articles to be published in Volume 25 in fall 2021. Manuscripts may be submitted through Scholastica or directly to

Job Opportunity: Public Health Legal Fellow
The Network for Public Health Law is hiring a public health legal fellow to work with the Mid-States Region Office at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The fellow will focus on legal issues regarding public health authority; social determinants of health; health equity; and collecting, sharing, and protecting data for public health purposes. Submit your application by August 31 for best consideration. Learn moreexternal icon and apply nowexternal icon.

Job Opportunity: Postdoctoral Fellowship in Rehabilitation Policy Research
The University of Washington, in partnership with Columbia University’s Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program, has announced a two-year, postdoctoral fellowship for people interested in the intersection of aging, disability, and health policy research. The program is interdisciplinary and invites applicants with a doctoral level degree (including PhD, PsyD, MD, JD, or equivalent) from any discipline with a policy component. Contact Dr. Ivan Molton or Dr. Tracy Mroz for more information.

Job Opportunity: Research Associate, The Justice Collaboratory, Yale Law School
The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School seeks a full-time research associate to start in fall 2021. This position is intended for individuals interested in the intersection of academia and public policy and who are passionate about social justice and committed to impactful research. Learn moreexternal icon.

Call for Applications: Research Fellow for the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation
The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School is hiring a full-time postdoctoral fellow to support its newly launched Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR). This position will likely be a three-year commitment. Learn more and applyexternal icon.

Tribal Announcements

National Indian Health Board (NIHB) 2021 National Tribal Health Conference
The nation’s premier American Indian and Alaska Native health conference will take place virtually on October 4–8. The National Tribal Health Conference explores health policy and its impact on tribes, advances tribal capacity to expand policy work, and serves as a forum to discuss policy and political work in the arenas of tribal healthcare and public, behavioral, and environmental health. Learn more and registerexternal icon.

Job Opportunity: Policy Analyst at the NIHB Policy Center
NIHB is seeking to hire a policy analyst to help with activities to support tracking and responding to federal health policies and regulations as they affect Indian Country. Learn moreexternal icon and apply pdf icon[PDF – 170 KB]external icon.

Job Opportunity: Policy Research Analyst at the NIHB Policy Center
NIHB seeks an experienced policy research analyst. This position requires a combination of education, experience, skills, and cultural competency that would adequately prepare one for a critical role at a national, tribal, nonprofit organization. Learn moreexternal icon and apply pdf icon[PDF – 182 KB]external icon.

Legal Tools

Legality of Dispensing Naloxone to Minors in Colorado
Naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, is critical to ongoing efforts to reduce the harm caused by opioids, including overdose deaths. Like many states, Colorado law permits distribution of naloxone to those who could help those at risk of overdosing. Use this resource developed by the Network for Public Health Law to learn about the legality of dispensing the medication to those under age 18 in Colorado. Access this tool pdf icon[PDF – 785 KB]external icon.

Ethics and Empathy in Using Imputation to Disaggregate Data for Racial Equity: Recommendations and Standards Guide
In many important policy questions, data disaggregated by race and ethnicity are unavailable, and efforts to collect new, self-reported data to fill these gaps is costly, time-consuming, or impermissible. Imputation and other methods for appending or integrating different data sources are critical tools for filling these gaps. An Urban Institute report explains what imputation is, why it is an important and needed tool for disaggregated data and race-conscious policy-making, and how to approach it with ethics and empathy. Learn moreexternal icon.

Legal Services Corporation Eviction Laws Database
The Center for Public Health Law Research partnered with the Legal Services Corporation and developed the Evictions Laws Database, a comprehensive online tool that allows users to explore the entire legal process of eviction, from profiling to post-judgment, in communities across the country. The purpose is to understand the significant variation in eviction laws and procedures across the United States and the impact on eviction outcomes. Access this toolexternal icon.

Top Story

National: State attorneys general reach a $26 billion national opioid settlementexternal icon
NPR (07/21/2021) Brian Mann

Story Highlights
Drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors—AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKessen—reached a $26 billion settlement with a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general in the face of state and local government lawsuits claiming that the drug distributors played a role in fueling the opioid epidemic. The distributors said that the settlement will deliver “meaningful relief to communities across the United States,” while Johnson & Johnson said the settlement “will directly support state and local efforts to make meaningful progress in addressing the opioid crisis.” The three drug distributors continue to dispute the allegations against them, and their statements stop short of admitting any wrongdoing in the opioid epidemic, which killed a record 93,000 Americans in 2020.

While many state and local governments have expressed their support of the settlement, at least one state attorney general, Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, indicated that he will not embrace the deal. Morrisey stated, “West Virginia is a resounding no,” as he believes that settlement amounts should be allocated based on the severity of the opioid epidemic, rather than population size. States and local governments have 30 and 150 days, respectively, to sign on to the deal. If most states do sign on, the drug distributors will disperse $21 billion over the course of 18 years, while Johnson & Johnson will disperse $5 billion over a nine-year period.

[Editor’s note: Read CDC’s information about opioids and the opioid epidemic.]

Briefly Noted

Arkansas: A federal judge blocks Arkansas ban on trans youth treatmentsexternal icon
NPR (07/21/2021) The Associated Press
[Editor’s note: Read Arkansas HB 1570external icon and read the Supplemental Judicial Order in Brandt et al. vs. Rutledge et alexternal icon.]

California: California’s ‘historic’ broadband bill passes key Senate committeeexternal icon
NBC News (07/17/2021) Cyrus Farivar
[Editor’s note: Read California AB/SB 156external icon.]

Missouri: MO Supreme Court upholds voter-approved Medicaid expansionexternal icon
Kansas City Star (07/22/2021) Jeanne Kuang
[Editor’s note: Read the Missouri Supreme Court rulingexternal icon.]

New York: New York public health law prompts changes at summer campsexternal icon
WSKG (07/21/2021) Noelle E. C. Evans
[Editor’s note: Read Senate Bill S 4345Aexternal icon and Children’s Mental Health.]

Texas: San Antonio built a pipeline to rural Central Texas to increase its water supply. Now local landowners say their wells are running dry.external icon
The Texas Tribune (08/02/2021) Erin Douglas
[Editor’s note: Learn more about water sources and public health.]

Tribal: When wells run dryexternal icon
Indian Country Today (08/02/2021) Associated Press
[Editor’s note: Read about the health implications of drought.]

Tribal: Choctaw Nation, concerned about Oklahoma’s anti-tribe efforts, asks White House for helpexternal icon
Tribal Business News (07/26/2021) Rob Capriccioso

Tribal: Montana water court decides tribal water rights in first-of-its-kind decisionexternal icon
Native News Online (07/28/2021) Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press
[Editor’s note: Read the Final Decree by the Montana Water Court pdf icon[PDF – 3.4 MB]external icon.]

Tribal: Nonprofit helps Native tribes utilize their natural resourcesexternal icon
Tao News (07/26/2021) Michael Tashji
[Editor’s note: Read the SAMHSA resource Suicide clusters within AI/AN communities pdf icon[PDF – 778 KB]external icon.]

Tribal: Oregon expands dental therapy statewideexternal icon
Indian Country Today (07/21/2021) National Indian Health Board
[Editor’s note: Read the newly signed HB 2528external icon.]

National: ‘The real damage’: Why FEMA is denying disaster aid to Black families that have lived for generations in the Deep Southexternal icon
The Washington Post (07/11/2021) Hannah Dreier and Andrew Ba Tran

National: How to make the child tax credit more accessibleexternal icon
Vox (07/29/2021) Gabby Birenbaum
[Editor’s note: Learn more about child poverty pdf icon[PDF – 492 KB]external icon.]

National: The time taxexternal icon
The Atlantic (07/27/2021) Annie Lowrey
[Editor’s note: Learn more about child poverty pdf icon[PDF – 492 KB]external icon.]

National: Medical debt was cut nearly in half in states that expanded Medicaidexternal icon
Vox (07/29/2021) Dylan Scott

National: The darker side of tree-planting pledgesexternal icon
Bloomberg City Lab (07/20/2021) Feargus O’Sullivan and Linda Poon

National: The federal government is making HIV prevention treatment free—but there’s a catchexternal icon
NPR (07/29/2021) Scott Saloway and Ryan Benk

Global Public Health Law News

Hungary: Health care workers protest for higher wagesexternal icon
Associated Press (07/31/2021) Justin Spike

Greece: Greece wildfires rip through towns as residents watch in horrorexternal icon
NBC News (08/08/2021) Molly Hunter, Tony Hemmings, and Rhea Mogul
[Editor’s note: Learn about wildfire preparedness.]

Court Filings and Opinions

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin held that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has the authority to impose restrictions on permits issued to large livestock farms to protect the state’s water supply.

After DNR reissued a wastewater permit to Kinnard Farms, Inc., which is a large, concentrated animal feeding operation, local citizens and Clean Wisconsin, Inc., petitioned DNR to review its decision. The petitioners argued that the reissued permit was inadequate because it did not 1) limit the maximum number of animals or 2) require monitoring to evaluate groundwater pollution. An administrative law judge heard the matter and found that petitioners demonstrated a “groundwater contamination crisis.” Based on that finding, the administrative law judge concluded that DNR had regulatory authority to impose the two at-issue conditions upon Kinnard’s permit. The case then moved to state court, where a judge agreedexternal icon that the permit conditions were justified and within DNR’s authority.external icon

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision. The court explained that Wisconsin law gives DNR a duty to ensure that permittees, such as Kinnard, comply with groundwater protection standards and that the law explicitly contemplates the use of animal unit maximum and off-site groundwater monitoring conditions to do so.

Clean Wisconsin, Inc. v. Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resourcesexternal icon
Supreme Court of Wisconsin
No. 2016AP1688
Decided July 8, 2021
Majority Opinion by Karofsky, Justice

In ongoing litigation, cigar and pipe tobacco industry groups brought a claim against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) challenging deeming and user fee rules. The US Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision that FDA’s classification of a pipe as a “part” and its imposition of fees upon certain tobacco products were not arbitrary and capricious, affirming the grant of summary judgment to FDA.

Cigar Association of America v. United States Food and Drug Administrationexternal icon
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia CircuitNo. 20-5266
Decided: July 20, 2021
Opinion by Rogers, Circuit Judge

The US District Court for the District of Massachusetts held that state-law claims against a drug manufacturer for failure to issue an adequate warning label are preempted by federal law. The decision concludes multi-district litigation against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) alleging that Zofran, its anti-nausea medication, failed to warn of the risk of birth defects from taking the drug during pregnancy.

The court explained that, where a warning is required under state law, failure-to-warn claims brought pursuant to that law are preempted when there is “clear evidence” that the FDA would not have approved the warning. The record showed that GSK filed a post-litigation citizen’s petition, placing plaintiffs’ research about Zofran and birth defects squarely before FDA. However, FDA declined to require any label change after its review of the materials. Based on this evidence, the court held that the plaintiffs’ state-law product liability claims were preempted by federal law.

In re: Zofran (Ondansetron) Products Liability Litigation pdf icon[PDF – 552 KB]external icon
United States District Court, District of Massachusetts
No. 1:15-md-2657-FDS
Decided June 1, 2021
Opinion by Saylor, Chief Judge

A US district court did not find that an ordinance preventing distribution of potentially hazardous food without a permit violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as the ordinance’s purpose was to promote public health and safety, not to interfere with religious practices.

A federal magistrate judge granted summary judgment to the City of St. Louis, finding that a municipal ordinance prohibiting public food distribution without a permit did not violate the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.

The plaintiffs, two men who identify as Christian, brought an action against the city after they received citations for distributing bologna sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness without a temporary food permit. The citations were issued pursuant to a municipal ordinance that forbade members of the public from distributing potentially hazardous foods without a city-issued permit. Under the ordinance, sandwiches containing meat were deemed “potentially hazardous.” The plaintiffs argued that the ordinance violated their First Amendment rights because sharing food was both a “religious obligation” and “expressive conduct.”

The court disagreed. First, the court held that the ordinance did not violate the Free Exercise clause because it was facially neutral and rationally related to the city’s interest in providing safe food to members of its population. Applying intermediate scrutiny, the court also ruled that, while food distribution may be considered expressive conduct, preventing foodborne illness was an important and substantial government interest.

Redlich v. City of St. Louisexternal icon
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
Case No. 4:19-CV-00019-NAB
Decision Date: July 22, 2021
Opinion by Baker, Magistrate Judge

The US District Court for the District of Idaho declined to enjoin the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from investigating potential violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), holding that an uncompleted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request did not provide a legal barrier to EPA’s performance of its statutory duty to protect the nation’s natural resources and public health under the CWA. The court explained that the two statutes—CWA and FOIA— were unrelated, and all factors weighed heavily in favor of allowing EPA to pursue its investigation.

Ace Black Ranches, LLC v. US Environmental Protection Agencyexternal icon
United States District Court for the District of Idaho
Case No. 1:21-cv-214-BLW
Decision Date: July 23, 2021
Opinion by Winmill, District Judge

Quiz Question: August 2021

Question: According to the Department of Agriculture, what is the leading cause of Black involuntary land loss?

Last Month’s Quiz Answer

Question: Which city has recently launched a plan to increase the number of trees within its neighborhoods?
Answer: Cleveland, OH

Quote of the Month

“Our state’s children have been through so much this year because of COVID-19, and it is especially important that they have access to mental health care,” said New York State Sen. Samra Brouk, chair of the State Senate’s Mental Health Committee and sponsor of a new law that makes it easier for summer camps to hire mental health therapists, social workers, and other specialized healthcare providers.

[Editor’s note: The quote is from the above article New York public health law prompts changes at summer campsexternal icon, WSKG, by Noelle E. C. Evans (07/21/2021).]

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.


Subscribe to Public Health Law News or access past issues. To make comments or suggestions, send an email message to


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: August 19, 2021