Network Report
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Collaborations between medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) and public health attorneys and practitioners can lead to effective strategies to improve health equity. As MLPs work to mitigate the impact of social determinants of poor health on an individual level, public health law provides broader legal and policy perspectives to address the structural factors that create poor health outcomes. This collection of resources provides case studies and learnings from collaborative projects between the Network, the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships, and MLPs across the country, as well as issue briefs and other tools that may be useful to MLPs working to support population-level legal interventions.

Law and Policy Perspectives:

What's Old Is New Again: Eastern Regional Meeting

In February, the Network’s Eastern Region Office hosted a day-long event with leaders, policymakers and practitioners to examine key challenges facing the public health community. Issues discussed included immigrant health; the impact of preemption on public health; same sex domestic violence protections; marijuana advertising regulations; and Congressional public health priorities.

Public Health Law News Round-Up – February 2019

Public health law and policy stories that made headlines recently include proposed legislation in Hawaii to ban cigarettes; the Trump administration’s campaign to end HIV; rising maternal mortality rates; legislation in Utah that reduces a Medicaid expansion previously approved by voters; research on the effectiveness of soda taxes; and how some parents are circumventing vaccine laws.


Issue Brief: Plant-Based Beverages Labeled as Milk and the FDA's Standard of Identity Regulations

The growing popularity of plant-based beverages like almond milk and soymilk has been accompanied by legal controversy. Leading groups in the dairy industry argue that these products cannot legally call themselves “milk” and that the potential product confusion has nutritional ramifications for consumers. This issue brief examines the major legal underpinnings of this debate and current developments at the Food and Drug administration with regard to this issue.

Issue Brief: Organic Food Labeling

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the National Organics Program (NOP), which dictates the production and handling standards for food that is marketed as organic.  The NOP also establishes a national standard regarding the use of the term “organic” in food labeling. This issue brief outlines the four permissible uses of the term as they relate to the percent of organic ingredients included in the food product.


Intimate Partner Violence in the LGBTQ Community: Examining the Legal, Practical and Real World Challenges Facing Survivors

March 28, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. EST

Intimate partner violence (IPV) impacts millions of individuals across the United States, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or education. Recent research shows that LGBTQ members fall victim to IPV at equal or even higher rates compared to their heterosexual counterparts. The webinar will focus primarily on those issues impacting the LGBTQ community in order to gain a better understanding of the current legal landscape, the status of protections for LGBTQ victims of IPV, and the practical challenges presented in serving this community.

Legal Technical Assistance Highlight:

Ordinances and Resolutions Adopted by Local Jurisdictions to Address Nitrate Contamination of Groundwater

Nitrate, a compound of nitrogen and oxygen, is one of the most common groundwater contaminants in rural areas. Excess nitrate in drinking water has been linked to a variety of health problems, including certain cancers, thyroid disease, and neural tube defects. A health officer recently contacted the Network seeking sample local ordinances addressing nitrate groundwater contamination, or its sources, in states with high levels of agricultural activity.

Upcoming Events:

Save the Date: Public Health Law Summit on Data Sharing, October 3 & 4

The summit will provide attorneys, privacy officers, health officials, public health and community practitioners, and others with practical, in-depth information and tools to navigate the complex legal landscape of health data collection, use and sharing.

Worth Sharing:

Call for Workshop Proposals: Whole Person, Whole Team, Whole Communities Summit

The Whole Person, Whole Team, Whole Communities Summit, September 19 & 20, will explore the ways in which laws and policies affect the physical, emotional, and mental health of individuals, hasten health care crises among the most vulnerable, and preserve health inequities that keep whole communities from thriving. Summit organizers are now accepting workshop proposals (due May 13) and research poster abstracts (due June 10).

Policy Surveillance Summer Institute 2019

The Policy Surveillance Program’s 2019 Summer Institute, June 6-7, 2019, will teach policy surveillance methods during a two-day intensive training at Temple University in Philadelphia. Policy surveillance tracks public health laws and policies over time and across jurisdictions, using a rigorous scientific process to create data for evaluation and empirical research.

Job Opportunity:

Law and Policy Analyst Positions

The Policy Surveillance Program at Temple University is seeking lawyers and law school graduates for several full-time positions. The positions are centered on public health law research and quantitative legal datasets. Applicants must have a JD and one year of related work or research experience. The application period will remain open until the positions are filled.

Thank You!

Your interest in the work of the Network is important. Together, we can advance law as a tool to improve public health. Please forward the Network Report and encourage others to join the Network!

The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.