Editor's Note: NEHA's Government Affairs program has a long and productive association with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The organizations have worked together on numerous legislative and policy areas that directly impact the environmental health profession. One of the keys to the successes of this collaboration has been the recognition of the fact that often some of the most significant legislation and policy initiatives related to environmental health occur in state legislatures. The states have, in a very real sense, been the innovators in developing new programs and practices. In recognition of this fact, we have asked NCSL to provide occasional overviews of state environmental health legislative activity, covering topics that are of the most pressing public concern
State legislatures introduced 2,624 bills in 2019 related to environmental health and enacted or adopted close to 400 bills. Legislatures in every state, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC, introduced environmental health legislation and bills were enacted in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. The legislatures in Ohio and Wisconsin did not enact any bills on environmental health.
New Jersey introduced 508 pieces of legislation related to environmental health, the most in the nation. This number was followed by New York with 460 bills, Massachusetts with 276 bills, California with 155 bills, Hawaii and New Hampshire with 119 bills each, and Minnesota with 115 bills. On the lower end, Wyoming and South Dakota introduced 6 bills each, Alaska introduced 4 bills, and Idaho introduced the least with 3 bills.
Food safety was the most popular topic for 2019 legislation: 798 bills were introduced in every state and 148 were enacted. Labeling of cell- or plant-based meat led to several laws being introduced and enacted on the labeling of these products.
The second most common environmental health topic for legislatures in 2019 was toxics and chemicals. Legislatures in 49 states introduced 793 bills related to some aspect of toxics or chemicals with 216 bills on lead hazards or lead poisoning. Legislation regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was one of the foremost issues addressed with over 40 bills introduced and 17 enacted.
More than 413 bills related to drinking water were introduced in 43 state legislatures. New Jersey introduced the most bills on this topic (77). The leading topics included the replacement of lead service lines and managing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Other popular environmental health topics addressed by state legislatures included indoor air quality (385 bills introduced and 45 enacted), wastewater (323 bills introduced and 39 enacted), and pesticides (193 bills introduced and 17 enacted). Topics such as body art (79 bills introduced and 16 enacted), asthma (59 bills introduced and 19 enacted), environmental health laboratories (34 bills introduced and 8 enacted), and swimming pools (9 bills introduced and 4 enacted) were less common environmental health topics addressed in 2019 by state legislatures.
As of March 2020, 49 state legislatures introduced 3,526 bills on environmental health.
Due to space limitations, a condensed version of the full listing of enacted 2019 state environmental health legislation is presented here in alphabetical order by topic. Readers can access a complete listing on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Environmental Health State Bill Tracking Database at www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/environmental- health-legislation-database.aspx.
In regard to asthma, a total of 59 bills were introduced and 19 were enacted. The foremost issue for state legislatures regarding asthma was permission to allow students and school administrators to administer emergency asthma medications. Other enacted bills include Maryland's H 1160, Act 724 that established the Breathe Easy East Baltimore Pilot Program and Pennsylvania's HR 256 that recognized May 7, 2019, as World Asthma Day.
Legislatures enacted 16 bills related to body art. Examples of these bills include:
* California's A 647, Act 60 requires the manufacturer of a hazardous substance that constitutes a cosmetic to post the material safety data sheet on its website.
* In Illinois, S 241, Act 303 makes it unlawful for a manufacturer to import for profit, sell, or offer for sale any cosmetic that was developed or manufactured using animal testing.
* Minnesota's S 326, Act 29 modifies requirements for supervisors of temporary body art technicians.
* Nebraska (L 449) and...