PEER: Miss. should tweak laws to prepare for bioterror response

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mississippi could be better prepared to respond to pandemics or acts of bioterrorism by making incremental changes in some of its laws, a legislative watchdog group says.

For example, current laws don’t require veterinarians or pharmacists to give the state Department of Health information about certain diseases.

Also, state laws don’t include pandemics in the definition of natural emergency, “creating some concerns that the governor might not have the legal power to respond to the fullest extent allowable under current emergency management laws,” says the report by PEER, the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review.

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The report was dated Oct. 10 but was released to the public on Monday. PEER says the report was prepared in response to legislative concerns about the state’s authority to respond to avian flu pandemics or acts of bioterrorism.

The report did not recommend spending any additional state money or hiring any new employees.

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