Eagle Forum
Eagle Forum Capitol Alert
January 8, 2002
Model State Emergency Health Powers Act
UPDATE: States Begin Work On Emergency Health Powers Act

Governor's 'Emergency' Power
to Control Your Lives

ALERT The CDC is urging state legislatures to adopt a Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (EHPA). It is an unprecedented assault on the constitutional rights of the American people, as well as on our fundamental principles of limited government and separation of powers. Watch out! EHPA is coming to your state!

The proposed EHPA would bring about government takeover of the health industry by the states instead of by the federal government. Note that EHPA's principal author is Lawrence Gostin, a former member of Clinton's discredited Task Force on Health Care Reform.

EHPA would give each governor sole discretion to grant himself far-reaching powers. The state legislature relinquishes its power to stop overreaching by the governor until at least 60 days after his actions. The bill wouldn't allow the governor to be reversed just because his actions are unwarranted, oppressive, or overreacting to the threat. EHPA also suggests requiring a vote of the legislature declaring that the risk has disappeared before the governor could be restrained, something many legislators would be reluctant to declare.

Here are some of the extraordinary powers EHPA would give to each governor:

  1. Control, restrict or prohibit firearms, 
  2. Seize private property, including food, fuel, and clothing, 
  3. Impose price controls and rationing 
  4. Order people out of their homes into dangerous quarantines where there would be no guarantee of safety from violence or contagious disease. 
  5. Take children from their parents and throw them into public quarantines managed by government officials, and  
  6. Demand that physicians administer certain drugs despite individuals' objections and with no provision for religious exemptions.

Government authorities would have full access, without meaningful limitation, to everyone's medical records. If the alleged emergency turned out to be grossly exaggerated or even a hoax, government need not return the private records. EHPA would grant these powers to governors without any showing of a real emergency, and merely an isolated case of a serious disease, or even a misdiagnosis, could trigger the governor's seizure of power. Without any checks or balances, the governor would become both doctor and policeman.

The CDC and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson have called for immediate passage of this bill, and Nevada already held a hearing. As a result of Eagle Forum's criticism, a revised draft of this bill was issued on December 21, which eliminates some of the worst provisions.

However, the original bill reveals the totalitarian mindset of those promoting the bill. No public health emergency justifies such draconian infringements on our liberties.

Urge your state legislature to reject the Emergency Health Powers Act.

For more information, go to:  
Prescription for disaster — Jonathan Turley column, Jan. 7, 2002

Emergency Powers Legislation — Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

Status of EHPA in each state — American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

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