"While Illinois is one of the best
prepared states in the nation to deal with emergencies, this new law
will improve the state's means to control the spread of disease,
whether it be an outbreak of a dangerously contagious or infectious
disease or the result of bioterrorism," the governor said.
The new law expands the powers of state
government, particularly those of the Illinois Department of Public
Health, in the event of a public health crisis. It is effective
The new law provides for expanded
public health powers and authorizes the state to:
of the expanded powers listed above was accompanied by the inclusion
of significant civil liberties protections and was drafted with
input from a variety of groups, including the American Civil
Liberties Union, the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois
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"While the state must have the
resources and authority to take immediate action in order to prevent
the spread of disease, the rights of individuals also must be
recognized," Blagojevich said. "This bill was carefully crafted in
to strike the appropriate balance between the needs of government
and the appropriate civil liberties protections."
The legislation includes due process
protections, such as the right to notice, the right to counsel and
an explicit right to refuse certain examinations, testing or
"This important legislation comes as a
result of lessons learned during the state's participation in the
national TopOff 2 terrorism exercise last year," said Dr. Eric E.
Whitaker, state public health director. "It became apparent during
the exercise that the state's authority in the event of an emergency
needed some improvements, and a legal team was immediately convened
to help draft this new law."
TopOff 2 was mandated by Congress to
test the nation's ability to respond to terrorism, and Illinois
volunteered to participate. In the exercise, the Chicago area was
subjected to a simulated intentional release of the plague.
House Bill 5164 was sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz,
D-Chicago, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago.
[News release from the