CCHC Testifies to Constitutional Concerns In Minnesota Health Powers Act

Despite concerns, bill passes committee

St. Paul, Minnesota - The Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act has faulty reasoning and constitutional concerns according to Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC), a health care policy group which provided testimony in the Senate Health and Family Security Committee today.

"[The bill] presumes that public health officials have and can commandeer all the tools necessary to prevent or contain a public health disaster and that members of the public must be forced to submit to public health directives," said Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

"It defies post-September 11th experience by presuming that members of the public will not help themselves, cannot help themselves, and are not willing to help each other."

In particular, she listed five concerns about Senate File 2669 (Sen. Hottinger (D-Mankato)):

  • Power of Governor and public health officials over members of the public, infringing on their constitutional rights of freedom and conscience.
  • Mandatory medical testing, medical treatment, specimen collection, vaccinations, quarantine and isolation, with full immunity from any injuries that resulted from actions and decisions of officials.
  • Possible loss of licensure for health care providers who refused to follow the orders of public health officials.
  • Ongoing health surveillance without citizens or patient knowledge or consent.
  • Rationing of medical supplies, medication and treatment.

Sen. Leo Foley(D-Coon Rapids) echoed Ms. Brase's concerns saying, "It strikes me as we should be looking at some legal counsel reviewing these for constitutional problems."

In addition, Ms. Brase expressed other concerns, including the broad definition of "specimen"- the items public health officials could remove from the human body.

"Body parts could be taken, Bone marrow could be extracted, Spinal taps could be required. And DNA databases could be created," she testified.

She challenged committee members to consider three questions prior to voting on the bill::

  • Will it work?
  • Will it enhance the ability of people to protect themselves?
  • Does it uphold the Constitutional rights you have taken an oath to defend?

The Minnesota Medical Association did not testify against the bill, instead getting an amendment attached that will allow the Health Department to expand health data reporting requirements through rule-making, rather than through the legislative process.

Although the Office of the Attorney General expressed a few concerns about the bill, Senate File 2669 was passed out of committee and sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing early next week.

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935