Senate Bill 1060 — Public health orders

Senate Bill 1060 — Public health orders

by
Parrish Miller
February 7, 2021

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1060 creates some new limits on the actions and authority of the state's seven District Boards of Health. 

Rating: +3

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

Senate Bill 1060 amends Section 39-414, Idaho Code, to state that if an order of a district board of health "applies to all persons in a county or a public health district, the board of county commissioners within each affected county, after consulting with the district board of health, will determine by resolution whether or not to approve the order within county limits within seven (7) days of the date of the order."

One concern with this language is the stipulation that the order is that county commissioners have the choice on whether to approve or reject an order only if it applies to "all persons in a county." An order applied to any resident or portion of a county should also be subject to review by the county commissioners. The simplest way to correct this shortcoming would be to replace the word "all" with "any" so it reads, "if an order applies to any persons in a county," the commission must decide whether to approve it. 

Giving elected county commissioners the authority to approve or reject orders enacted by district boards of health, which are often run by individuals not elected by the people, is an important step back toward constitutional governance. 

(+1)

Senate Bill 1060 further amends Section 39-414, Idaho Code, to limit an order of a district board of health to a period of 30 days. Any extensions, modifications, or reimpositions will be for additional periods of 30 days, with each one "subject to approval by the board of county commissioners."

(+1)

Finally, Senate Bill 1060 amends Section 39-419, Idaho Code, to reduce violations of a health district order (if the order is applicable to all persons in a county or a public health district) from a misdemeanor to an infraction, with a fine of $50.

Of note, under this legislation, if the order does not apply to all persons in a county or a public health district, the misdemeanor penalties remain. The same concerns as discussed above apply here. A health district could bypass both the review by county commissioners and the reduced penalties simply by excluding a person or area in a county from the jurisdiction of an order.

(+1)

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