50 State Survey: Summary of Enacted Laws and Pending Bills Limiting Public Health Authority: The Second Wave

This resource details COVID-19-related laws and pending legislation, and broader enacted and proposed limitations on public health authority in all 50 states and the District of Columbia from January 2021 through mid-May 2022 for enacted laws and from September 2021 through mid-May 2022 for pending legislation.

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Public Health Authority

The authority to act to protect and promote the public's health has emerged over the course of our Nation’s history, and has enabled many of modern public health’s greatest achievements. Today, public health agencies use their authority to promote health, prevent the spread of infectious disease, protect against environmental hazards, advance equity and assure local public health infrastructure and health services. During declared emergencies, state and federal authorities have broader powers to act to assist governments, suspend or modify legal requirements, pass and enforce law and expend funds for the health, safety and welfare of society. Recently, some states have moved to limit public health powers. Such efforts pose a mounting challenge for public health’s response to COVID-19 and future threats.

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Public Health

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