Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Environmental Health in the 2009 State Legislative Sessions

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Environmental Health in the 2009 State Legislative Sessions

Article excerpt

The 2009 state legislative sessions were dominated by diminishing revenues and budget cuts. Unlike recessions in the past, no state was immune from this downturn. State legislatures had to grapple with a $142 billion shortfall, which is anticipated to increase in 2010.

Regardless of the budget, environmental health continued to move forward with 158 bills being enacted in 41 states. In every state some bill related to environmental health was introduced, with a total of 1,333 bills in the 50 states (District of Columbia and the territories were not included in this research). No single issue dominated the environmental health agenda in 2009, but some states were more active than others. New York saw 251 bills introduced, but as of August, none had passed. Indiana only introduced 24 bills related to environmental health, but passed seven of them. Montana introduced 17 bills, enacting six of them.

The information below reviews several key laws related to environmental health. As of August, only nine legislatures remained in regular session; the majority had adjourned for the year. Several states allow bills introduced in one session to carry over to the next, but that does not mean the bill will move any further during the 2010 session than it did in the 2009 session.

Indoor Air Quality

Continuing with the trend set during the 2008 legislative session, several states sought to prohibit tobacco smoking in public places. Thirty states introduced legislation banning smoking in public areas. As of August 2009, only Maine, North Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia had enacted smoking bans during the 2009 legislative session. Maine forbids smoking in certain areas of state parks and historic sites (2009 Me. Laws, Chap. 65). In South Dakota, smoking is prohibited in public places and places of employment (2009 S.D. Sess. Laws, Chap. 171). Smoking is also banned in Vermont places of employment (2009 Vt. Acts, Act 32). North Carolina prohibits smoking in state government buildings and vehicles (2009 N.C. Sess. Laws, Chap. 2009-27). Virginia bans smoking in restaurants, unless the building is constructed so smoking areas are structurally separated from nonsmoking areas and have separate ventilation systems.

Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi unsuccessfully attempted to enact legislation banning smoking in public areas such as restaurants, bars, casinos, government buildings, schools, and places of employment.

Nebraska, however, enacted legislation that exempts cigar bars from the state's Clean Indoor Air Act. Similarly, Illinois seeks to pass legislation exempting smoking from the Smoke Free Illinois Act for smoking that is conducted for scientific research or is associated with an American Indian religious ceremony or ritual (IL S 215; IL S 1685). Hawaii enacted an exception to its Smoke-Free Hawaii Law that permits smoking by employees or volunteers of correctional facilities (2009 Ha. Act 99).

Seven states enacted legislation concerning installation of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. Colorado requires any newly constructed or existing single or multifamily dwelling offered for sale, which contains a fuel-burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage, to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed within a specified distance of each room used for sleeping (2009 Colo. Sess. Laws, Chap. 51). Maine requires that all single-family dwellings and multi-apartment buildings, newly constructed single-family dwellings and rental units must have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in close proximity to a bedroom (2009 Me. Laws, Chap. 162). New Hampshire also mandates installation of carbon monoxide detectors in single and multifamily dwellings constructed or substantially rehabilitated after a certain date (2009 NH Laws, Chap. 46). In Montana, sellers of residential property must provide notice regarding the presence of a carbon monoxide detector. …

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