Sentinel Surveillance of Emerging Laws Limiting Public Health Emergency Orders

During the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators in almost every state introduced bills that would limit state executive authority to respond to the current pandemic or future public health emergencies. Between January 1, 2021 and June 17, 2021, these bills were enacted into law and became effective in eleven states.  

Legislative efforts to restrict executive public health powers include laws that limit the duration of a state of emergency or emergency order; provide that emergency orders may be terminated by the legislature; or restrict the provisions an emergency order may contain. These laws could have harmful impacts on public health by restricting the ability of a governor, state health agency, or state health official to respond to a future health emergency in a swift and flexible way. 

This longitudinal dataset provides an overview of laws that limit the authority of a governor, state health agency, or state health official, regarding public health emergency orders. The dataset covers all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia and includes laws that were enacted since January 1, 2021, and were effective on or before June 17, 2021. The dataset uses the sentinel surveillance of emerging laws and policies legal mapping method and will be updated in November 2021 to track new laws that have been enacted or have become effective since June 17, 2021.

Research for the dataset was provided by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

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