PA 10-50—sSB 149

Public Safety and Security Committee

Public Health Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE GOVERNOR'S POWER TO MODIFY OR SUSPEND STATUTES, REGULATIONS OR OTHER REQUIREMENTS DURING A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

SUMMARY: This act allows the governor, when she declares a civil preparedness emergency, to modify or suspend statutes, regulations, or other requirements that conflict with the protection of the public health, not just those that conflict with the efficient and expeditious execution of civil preparedness functions.

The act explicitly allows her to take such actions when she declares a public health emergency, but it appears that she may do so only if she has declared a civil preparedness emergency. By law, the governor may already, during a civil preparedness emergency, take steps that are reasonably necessary to protect the health of state residents and may modify and suspend laws for certain occurrences, which may include situations affecting public health. Consequently, the legal effect of the new provision is unclear.

The act also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010

BACKGROUND

Civil Preparedness Emergency

The law defines a “civil preparedness emergency” as an emergency declared by the governor “in the event of a serious disaster, enemy attack, sabotage or other hostile action within the state or a neighboring state or in the event of the imminence thereof” (CGS 28-1(7)).

Governor's Authority to Declare a Public Health Emergency (CGS 19a-131a et seq. )

Under existing law, the governor may declare a statewide or regional public health emergency after making a good faith effort to inform legislative leaders. She may do this when a communicable disease, other than a sexually transmitted disease, or contamination that poses a substantial risk of a significant number of human fatalities or permanent or long-term disabilities occurs or is an imminent threat. The disease or contamination must be caused by, or the governor must believe it is caused by, bioterrorism, an epidemic or pandemic disease, a natural disaster, or a chemical or nuclear attack or accident.

When she declares a public health emergency, the governor may (1) order the public health commissioner to implement all or part of the public health emergency response plan and vaccinate people and (2) authorize him to isolate or quarantine people.

She must also ensure that the declaration and any orders issued under it are published in full at least once in a newspaper with general circulation in each county, provided to news media, and posted on the state's website.

Six members of a 10-member legislative committee may vote to disapprove and nullify a declaration.

OLR Tracking: VR: JK: JL: DF