Illinois " Emergency Health Powers Act " is Dangerous
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 2:54 PM
Subject: [trt-illinois] <> Illinois " Emergency Health Powers Act " is Dangerous!
New 'Emergency Health Powers Act' is dangerous
Springfield, IL -- A new proposal, HB3809 & SB1529, would grant the Illinois governor the power to declare a " bioterrorism emergency " -- then seize property, order public quarantines, and ration food, guns, and alcohol is in both the Illinois House and Senate.
This proposed legislation, which has been introduced in a dozen states already, gives governors astonishing powers, under vaguely defined guidelines, to combat a bioterrorism emergency that may never happen.
The Illinois version is almost a word for word copy of the draft Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA), written by the Centers for Disease Control, is designed to help state governments cope with a sudden outbreak of smallpox, anthrax, or other bioterrorism attack. Health experts predict that every state will consider the 40-page model legislation at some point this year.
In the Illinois House the sponsors for HB3809 are representatives Feigenholtz, Burke, Bugielski and Lang.
In the Illinois Senate SB1529 is sponsored by Lisa Madigan
* Gives governors the power to declare a public health emergency, without consulting public health officials, the legislature, or the courts.
* Defines infectious disease as any " disease caused by a living organism, " which " may, or may not, be transmissible from person to person, animal to person, or insect to person. Some health experts say the definition is so broad that it could include the outbreak of a dangerous flu or virus.
* Allows public health officials to mandate quarantines (HOUSE ARREST) for people suspected of having an " infectious disease, " and require vaccinations (FORCED INJECTION) and medical exams (STRAP YOU DOWN NAKED TO BE PROBED AND PRODDED.) Doctors could be forced to provide them, and fined if they refuse.
* Permits states to mobilize the " organized militia " to seize control of any private property the governor deems " reasonable and necessary " to cope with the emergency, such as " communication devices (YOUR PHONES, COMPUTERS, FAX MACHINES, WALKIE TALKIES, CB RADIOS,) real estate (YOUR HOME, GARAGE, LAKE HOUSE, CONDO, VACANT LOT,) fuels (YOUR GASOLINE, HEATING OIL, NATURAL GAS, FIREWOOD, DIESEL, LAMP OIL,) YOUR food, YOUR clothing, and health care facilities. "
* Allows the governor to destroy private property alleged to be hazardous to public health, in some cases without compensation.
* Empowers the state to " control and restrict alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles. "
The first problem with granting governors such awesome powers is that the definition of an " emergency " is so vague. According to MEHPA, a public health emergency is " an occurrence or imminent threat of an illness or health condition...caused by bioterrorism...that poses a substantial risk of a significant number of human fatalities. "
The second problem is what is a significant number? Five? That is the number of Americans already killed by the anthrax attacks. Is it 500? Is it 5,000? Unfortunately, if our state passes this legislation, a bioterrorism attack will be whatever our governor says it is.
The prestigious Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) warns that under the act, " there is no requirement for scientifically valid assessments, risk:benefit analysis, or judicial or even administrative review. " The group's comments on the proposal, along with the text of the model legislation, can be viewed at http://www.aapsonline.org
Contact your legislators and urge them to vote against these acts.
The bills can viewed online at these sites. Full text versions are available there also.
Status of HB3809 http://www.legis.state.il.us/scripts/imstran.exe?LIBSINCBHB3809
Status of SB1529 http://www.legis.state.il.us/scripts/imstran.exe?LIBSINCBSB1529