Senator LORETTA WEINBERG
District 37 (Bergen)
Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE
District 19 (Middlesex)
Senators O'Scanlon and Testa
Makes information related to public health emergency accessible with certain limited exceptions.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning open public records requests related to a public health emergency, and amending P.L.2005, c.222.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 2 of P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-2) is amended to read as follows:
2. As used in this act:
"Biological agent" means any microorganism, virus, bacterium, rickettsiae, fungus, toxin, infectious substance, or biological product that may be naturally occurring or engineered as a result of biotechnology, or any naturally occurring or bioengineered component of any such microorganism, virus, bacterium, rickettsiae, fungus, infectious substance, or biological product, capable of causing death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant, or another living organism.
"Bioterrorism" means the intentional use or threat of use of any biological agent, to cause death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, animal, plant, or other living organism, or degrade the quality and safety of the food, air, or water supply.
"Chemical weapon" means a toxic chemical and its precursors, except where intended for a lawful purpose as long as the type and quantity is consistent with such a purpose. Chemical weapon includes, but is not limited to: nerve agents, choking agents, blood agents, and incapacitating agents.
"Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Health, or the commissioner's designee.
"Contagious disease" means an infectious disease that can be transmitted from person to person.
"Department" means the Department of Health.
"Health care facility" means any non-federal institution, building or agency, or portion thereof whether public or private for profit or nonprofit that is used, operated or designed to provide health services, medical or dental treatment or nursing, rehabilitative, or preventive care to any person. Health care facility includes, but is not limited to: an ambulatory surgical facility, home health agency, hospice, hospital, infirmary, intermediate care facility, dialysis center, long-term care facility, medical assistance facility, mental health center, paid and volunteer emergency medical services, outpatient facility, public health center, rehabilitation facility, residential treatment facility, skilled nursing facility, and adult day care center. Health care facility also includes, but is not limited to, the following related property when used for or in connection with the foregoing: a laboratory, research facility, pharmacy, laundry facility, health personnel training and lodging facility, patient, guest and health personnel food service facility, and the portion of an office or office building used by persons engaged in health care professions or services.
"Health care provider" means any person or entity who provides health care services including, but not limited to: a health care facility, bioanalytical laboratory director, perfusionist, physician, physician assistant, pharmacist, dentist, nurse, paramedic, respiratory care practitioner, medical or laboratory technician, and ambulance and emergency medical workers.
"Infectious disease" means a disease caused by a living organism or other pathogen, including a fungus, bacteria, parasite, protozoan, virus, or prion. An infectious disease may, or may not, be transmissible from person to person, animal to person, or insect to person.
"Isolation" means the physical separation and confinement of an individual or groups of individuals who are infected or reasonably believed to be infected, on the basis of signs, symptoms or laboratory analysis, with a contagious or possibly contagious disease from non-isolated individuals, to prevent or limit the transmission of the disease to non-isolated individuals.
"Local health agency" means a county, regional, municipal, or other governmental agency organized for the purpose of providing health services, administered by a full-time health officer and conducting a public health program pursuant to law.
"Local Information Network and Communications System Agency" or "LINCS agency" means the lead local public health agency in each county or identified city, as designated and determined by the commissioner pursuant to section 21 of this act, responsible for providing central planning, coordination, and delivery of specialized services within the designated county or city, in partnership with the other local health agencies within that jurisdiction, in order to prepare for and respond to acts of bioterrorism and other forms of terrorism or other public health emergencies or threats, and to discharge the activities as specified under this act.
"Microorganism" includes, but is not limited to, bacteria, viruses, fungi, rickettsiae, or protozoa.
"Nuclear or radiological device" means: any nuclear device which is an explosive device designed to cause a nuclear yield; an explosive radiological dispersal device used directly or indirectly to spread radioactive material; or a simple radiological dispersal device which is any act, container or any other device used to release radiological material for use as a weapon.
"Overlap agent or toxin" means: any microorganism or toxin that poses a risk to both human and animal health and includes:
Anthrax - Bacillus anthracis
Botulism - Clostridium botulinum toxin, Botulinum neurotoxins, Botulinum neurotoxin producing species of Clostridium
Plague - Yersinia pestis
Tularemia - Francisella tularensis
Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers - Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, Machupo
Brucellosis- Brucellosis species
Glanders - Burkholderia mallei
Melioidosis - Burkholderia pseudomallei
Psittacosis - Chlamydophila psittaci
Coccidiodomycosis - Coccidiodes immitis
Q Fever - Coxiella burnetii
Typhus Fever - Rickettsia prowazekii
Viral Encephalitis - VEE (Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus), EEE (Eastern equine encephalitis), WEE (Western equine encephalitis)
Toxins - Ricinus communis, Clostridium perfringens, Staph. Aureus, Staphylococcal enterotoxins, T-2 toxin, Shigatoxin
Nipah - Nipah virus
Hantavirus - Hantavirus
West Nile Fever - West Nile virus
Hendra - Hendra virus
Rift Valley Fever - Rift Valley Fever virus
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
"Personal identifying information" means information that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual and includes, but is not limited to, the name, address, email address, social media address, telephone number, fax number, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, official State issued identification number, employer or taxpayer number, place of employment, telephone number of employment, employee identification number, school address, school phone number, student identification number, mother's maiden name, unique biometric data, such as fingerprint, voice print, retina or iris image or other unique physical representation, unique electronic identification number, medical diagnoses, treatments or other medical information concerning an identifiable person.
"Public health emergency" means an occurrence or imminent threat of an occurrence that:
a. is caused or is reasonably believed to be caused by any of the following: (1) bioterrorism or an accidental release of one or more biological agents; (2) the appearance of a novel or previously controlled or eradicated biological agent; (3) a natural disaster; (4) a chemical attack or accidental release of toxic chemicals; or (5) a nuclear attack or nuclear accident; and
b. poses a high probability of any of the following harms: (1) a large number of deaths, illness, or injury in the affected population; (2) a large number of serious or long-term impairments in the affected population; or (3) exposure to a biological agent or chemical that poses a significant risk of substantial future harm to a large number of people in the affected population.
"Quarantine" means the physical separation and confinement of an individual or groups of individuals, who are or may have been exposed to a contagious or possibly contagious disease and who do not show signs or symptoms of a contagious disease, from non-quarantined individuals, to prevent or limit the transmission of the disease to non-quarantined individuals.
"Toxin" means the toxic material of plants, animals, microorganisms, viruses, fungi, or infectious substances, or a recombinant molecule, whatever its origin or method of production, including:
a. any poisonous substance or biological product that may be engineered as a result of biotechnology or produced by a living organism; or
b. any poisonous isomer or biological product, homolog, or derivative of such a substance.
(cf: P.L.2012, c.17, s.356)
2. Section 26 of P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-26) is amended to read as follows:
26. Any correspondence, records, and reports [and medical information] made, maintained, received or filed pursuant to this act shall [not] be [considered a public or government record] subject to disclosure under P.L.1963, c.73 (C. 47:1A-1 et seq.) and P.L.2001, c.404 (C.47:1A-5 et al.).
At no time shall personal identifying information, as defined in section 2 of P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-2), be considered a public or government record under P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) and P.L.2001, c.404 (C.47:1A-5 et al.).
The records custodian of a LINCS agency, as defined in section 2 of P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-2), shall have discretion to determine the accessibility to any correspondence, record, or report related to bioterrorism as a public or government record under this act, P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-1 et seq.).
(cf: P.L.2005, c.222, s.26)
3. This act shall take effect immediately.
Under current law, any correspondence, record, report and medical information made, maintained, received, or filed pursuant to the Emergency Health Powers Act is not considered a public or government record, and therefore not accessible under an open public records request.
Under this bill, any correspondence, records, and reports made, maintained, received or filed pursuant to the Emergency Health Powers Act will be subject to disclosure under the law commonly known as the open public records act.
The bill also specifies that personal identifying information will not be considered a public or government record. Under the bill, personal identifying information includes, but is not limited to, the name, address, email address, social media address, telephone number, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, place of employment, medical diagnoses, treatments, or other medical information concerning an identifiable person.
The bill also provides records custodians of a Local Information Network and Communications, LINCS, agency, with discretion to determine the accessibility of any record related to bioterrosim as a public or government record. A LINCS agency is the lead public health agency in each county or identified city. The agency is responsible for central planning, coordination and delivery of specialized services within the designated county or city, in partnership with the other local health agencies in that jurisdiction, in order to prepare for and respond to acts of bioterrorism and other forms of terrorism, or other public health emergencies or threats.