Public health officials, attorneys, policy-makers and advocates have reached out to the Network with requests for legal assistance. Below are some of these requests and the responses given by Network attorneys. To protect privacy, names are not included in the examples. In addition, the Network will not share an example if a requestor asks for his or her request to be withheld.
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A climate and health specialist contacted the Network for information about resources related to preemption of local laws by states, specifically state-level preemption of bans on the use of plastic bags by grocery stores, convenience stores and other establishments.
“Open burning,” the practice of burning refuse – often trash, leaves, or scrap wood – in the open air, is a common method of disposal but can have serious consequences for environmental safety and the public’s health. Open burning ordinances and model laws are available from several jurisdictions.
The Network was recently contacted by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES). The department is interested in helping local authorities regulate well water quality in New Hampshire – specifically through local ordinances requiring water quality testing for new private wells. The DES wondered if it would be better to recommend that locals pass the ordinance based on the local health officer’s nuisance authority, or if it should recommend using the state’s building code as the basis for the ordinance.
The Network was asked about workers’ rights in dealing with bed bugs in their workplace and in homes provided by their employer. The Network researched the issue and found that in the requestor’s state, there is no law that addresses bed bugs. However, there are a number of useful resources on bed bugs, and specifically, bed bugs in the workplace.
A city council member seeking to address use of pesticide, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers in the context of a comprehensive city planning process recently contacted the local health officer, who came to the Network for more information.
The Network recently received an inquiry from a health official about whether local government zoning permits to engage in frac sand mining can include conditions or contemplate modifications that would protect public health.