Bill could overrule local health laws
February 3, 2012
Summit County Health Department Director Rich Bullough says he is "very concerned" about proposed legislation that would take away the local health department’s right to set rules that are more strict than those set by the state or federal government.
"It is a horrible piece of flawed legislation," Bullough said. "It runs counter to what the Utah Legislature says they stand for which is stopping big government from interfering with local government. They are against federal laws that interfere with the state, but now that is what they are doing to the counties."
House Bill 313, entitled Local Health Regulation and sponsored by Rep. Johnny Anderson (R-Taylorsville), would remove the authority of county or city health boards and departments to establish certain standards and regulations regarding things such as tanning beds or septic tanks.
According to Bullough, Summit County’s health department is trying to be ahead of the curve regarding minors’ use of tanning beds and public health.
"This piece of legislation would set us back because it would not allow us to set rules that we know are right if they are more stringent than the state or federal rules," he said. "We were under the belief that this bill was mostly focused on the food industry but now we know that it is much more sweeping than that."
The Summit County Health Department Board is meeting on Monday to come up with an official response to the bill. The Utah Association of Counties has already voted unanimously to oppose the bill.
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"I would be surprised if any local authority is not opposed to this bill," Bullough said. "It repeals the ability of local boards to set policy which is never a good thing."
Anderson could not be reach for a comment prior to publication. The bill was distributed to members of the Utah House of Representatives House Rules Committee on Tuesday for review.