Richman Proposes Anti-Bioterrorism Bill to Expand State Powers in Public Health Emergencies
Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Sun Valley), the only physician in the state Legislature, plans to introduce an anti-bioterrorism bill that would allow forced quarantine and seizure of hospitals and pharmacies in the event of a public health emergency, the Sacramento Bee reports. In addition, Richman's bill would allow mandatory vaccination or treatment of California residents and destruction of contaminated property without the owners' consent. The bill also would name the state Department of Health Services the "lead public health authority," a designation held currently by county health departments. Under the legislation, the governor could declare a public health emergency in cases of "imminent threat of illness or health condition caused by bioterrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease." Richman plans to introduce the bill in January. "Nobody looks at issues of quarantining, commandeering of property or forcing treatment as minor steps," Richman said, adding, "But they need to be discussed and debated when there is the potential of having a disease such as smallpox used by bioterrorists." Richman based the bill on model legislation released by the CDC in October (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 11/21). Lawmakers in "virtually every state" next year will consider the model legislation (California Healthline, 11/19). Richman has sent a draft of the legislation to key members of the state Legislature and to the governor's office (Sacramento Bee, 11/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.