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Preserving Local Public Health Powers

How to resist policy efforts to limit public health authority

Fact Sheet
Good Governance

Public health is best served when decisions are driven by experts and experience rather than politics, but in the wake of COVID-19, some state legislatures continue to propose and pass preemptive bills that limit the authority of local public health officials. To help localities better protect the public’s health, ChangeLab Solutions has developed a set of resources for advocates, detailing what public health authority is, how it works, and the types of restrictions that public health departments are facing.

Limiting local public health officials’ authority disrupts their ability to respond to public health emergencies as well as day-to-day public health needs. Limits on their powers can also make it harder for public health workers to address entrenched health disparities and advance health equity for all. Using real-world examples, the following fact sheets delineate the importance of local public health powers and suggest steps that communities can take to protect those powers.

  • Help Ensure That Public Health Professionals Can Continue to Protect Community Well-Being explains how communities can identify, understand, and resist potential legislative and other legal limitations on local public health powers.
  • Why Keep Public Health Powers Close to Local Communities? discusses the harmful effects of recent attempts to limit the long-standing ways that public health departments protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of everyone in their communities.

Interested in learning more? For additional resources on public health authority and preemption; technical assistance; and partnership opportunities, please reach out to any of the Act for Public Health partners, including ChangeLab Solutions.