Bill Would Change Authority of Who Issues Directed Health Measures

LINCOLN–(KFOR Feb. 21)–A bill before Nebraska lawmakers deals with changing up who has the authority to issue directed health measures.

LB 421 from Omaha Senator Kathleen Kauth would divert the authority away from local health directors to elected officials, such as county boards or city councils to issue DHMs.

“Forced mask-wearing, restrict business operations, in-person gatherings, school attendance, even how far apart we were supposed to stand from each other,” Kauth told a legislative committee recently.   “The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light certain flaws in our system. One such flaw is the issue of who gets to restrict freedom under what circumstances and to what degree.”

Most health officials are against the bill, including Omaha physician Dr. James Lawler, who says public health officers are using their authorities all the time.

Every day across the country, hundreds of these public health orders or what we call directed health measures are issued to keep people safe,” Dr. Lawler told Omaha TV station WOWT.

Lawler add the bill would impact DHMs for other illnesses, like tuberculosis, whooping cough, and hepatitis A — just a few of the spreadable diseases that may require isolation or quarantine to protect others.