This information brief summarizes the Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act, enacted in May 2002. The act expands the circumstances under which the governor may declare a national security emergency or peacetime emergency, increases the emergency management powers available to the governor and other officials, establishes standards and due process procedures for people being isolated or quarantined, and requires a study of other issues not resolved by the legislature.
In May 2002 the Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act was enacted, giving the governor, commissioner of health, and other officials tools to respond to a public health emergency in this state. (Laws 2002, ch. 402, codified mainly in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 12) Initial versions of the act were based on a proposal by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The MDH proposal, in turn, was drawn from a Model State Emergency Health Powers Act prepared for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The MDH proposal and the model act addressed a broad range of issues. The emergency health powers bills received substantial debate as they moved through the legislative process, and the final act addresses fewer issues than the initial proposals. The act covers the following topics:
- When the governor may declare a public health emergency
- Changes to the emergency management powers of the governor and other officials
- A person’s right to refuse medical examinations, tests, and treatment
- Standards for isolation and quarantine, and due process procedures that apply to people who are isolated or quarantined
- Issues for the commissioner of health to study further and report on to the legislature in the 2003 session
All provisions in the act became effective May 23, 2002, the day following final enactment. The 2004 Legislature extended the act’s expiration date to August 1, 2005 (Laws 2004, ch. 279, art. 11, § 7). This sunset date gives the legislature three legislative sessions to modify and refine provisions in the act. If no legislative action is taken before the sunset date, the statutory changes made by the act will expire on that date.
This and any related posts have been adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, The Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act, written by legislative analyst Anna Bonelli.