2012 marked the fourth year since the great recession began and the third since it ended, according to government statistics. For state legislatures, however, 2012 marked the first year the states had to balance budgets without federal stimulus funding, instead relying on state revenues. This forced the austerity measures that the states began during the recession to remain in place. The good news is that states survived the past year without suffering from severe budget gaps (the difference between revenue and expenditures). The bad news is that they remain under fiscal constraint.
In 2012 state legislatures met in 44 of the 50 states, plus in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Although the biggest concern remains the budget, health insurance exchanges came in a close second. Medicaid is the largest single expenditure in most states; therefore bringing health care costs under control was a major issue, as were education, transportation, and welfare.
Bills on environmental health were introduced in every state in session. Of the states (and territories) in session, legislators proposed 1,556 pieces of legislation, of which 192 passed into law. The enacted laws have been categorized among 13 subject areas, including asbestos; asthma; biomonitoring, tracking, and surveillance; children's environmental health; drinking water; food safety; indoor air quality; lead; mercury; pesticides; swimming pools; toxics and chemicals; and miscellaneous. Food safety saw the greatest number of bills introduced (285), as well as the greatest number of enacted laws (45). Biomonitoring, surveillance, and tracking represents the category with the fewest laws proposed (14) and passed (1).
Thirteen bills were adopted relating to asbestos. Four of those laws were passed in three states (Louisiana, Virginia, and West Virginia) to recognize Mesothelioma Awareness Day Virginia and West Virginia recognize this day of awareness on September 26; Louisiana chose October 17. Laws pertaining to the liability of successor corporations for asbestos claims passed in Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, and Utah. All four states limit a successor corporation's asbestos liability to "the fair market value of the gross assets of the transferor [at] the time of merger or consolidation."
Of the six bills pertaining to asthma that passed into law, one allows schools to administer epinephrine to students in the event of an allergic reaction; all three protect school nurses from liability arising from the administration of epinephrine to students. These laws were passed in Illinois and Virginia (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/ PMH0001847/). The remaining laws related to asthma were passed in …