Publication Title: 
American Journal of Public Health
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, this article written by staff at the Center for Public Health Law Research identifies and categorizes US state legislation introduced between January 1, 2021, and May 20, 2022 that addresses emergency health authority. The COVID-19 pandemic called for quick, decisive action to limit infections, and when the next outbreak hits, new laws limiting health authority may make such action even more difficult.

Using modified policy surveillance methods, the researchers collected and coded state bills and enacted laws limiting or expanding the emergency public health authority of state and local officials and agencies. State legislators introduced 1,531 bills addressing public health authority; 191 of those were enacted in 43 states and the District of Columbia, including 17 expanding and 65 contracting emergency authority, 163 regulating use, and 30 preempting local use of specific measures such as mask mandates.