Group of students wearing protective medical masks and talking, standing in lecture hall at the university.

Public Health Law’s Future Begins in the Classroom

By Taleed El-Sabawi

The use of emergency public health powers by state and local governments during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic led to intense public criticism followed by legislative attempts (include some successes) to strip state executives of this authority. This has led some to ask: is this the end of public health law? What does the future hold?

For public health law to survive, it needs a good defense. It needs passionate advocates. It needs a growing constituency that understands its utility and its importance in protecting the health of the population. But, let’s face it. I would wager a guess that the vast majority of law students, law professors, and law school administrators do not even know what public health law is.

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Black and white exterior of Legislative chambers of Washington State with inscription and pillars.

Tracking Public Health Authority Changes from 2021 & 2022 Legislative Sessions

By Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research

COVID-19 called for quick, decisive action by public health authorities to support communities and prevent infections. Since the pandemic began, legislators around the country have been acting to change the way authorities may respond to future public health emergencies — expanding or limiting officials’ authority to act in an emergency, changing who has authority to act, and the actions they may have the authority to take.

New research by the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, in collaboration with the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials and the Network for Public Health Law, capture details of legislation that addresses emergency health authority introduced between January 1, 2021, and May 20, 2022, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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Emergency department entrance.

New Legal Mapping Method Highlights Recent Laws Limiting Public Health Emergency Orders

By Katie Moran-McCabe

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators in almost every state have introduced bills that would limit state executive authority to respond to the current pandemic or future public health emergencies. Between January 1, 2021, and November 5, 2021, one or more of these bills were enacted into law and became effective in 19 states.

This finding is a product of a new legal mapping method called Sentinel Surveillance of Emerging Laws and Policies (SSELP), developed by researchers from our Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University (CPHLR), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This mapping method is intended to quickly capture and track emerging laws and legal innovations impacting public health, and to instigate faster evaluation of their effects on health and health equity.

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