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City Council to Consider Revised Public Health Emergency Law on Monday

City Councilor Pat Davis is proposing a floor substitute to O-20-4.

Today, City Councilor Pat Davis filed an updated version of the proposed new public health emergency powers provisions, O-20-4, to be considered by City Council at Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

In anticipation of the meeting, some online postings misinforming the public about the provisions raised concerns. The substitute bill is drafted to prohibit misinterpretation by more clearly distinguishing between civil and public health emergencies.

“From the beginning we recognized that existing city laws governing emergencies were not designed for today’s public health concerns,” says Councilor Davis. “This update makes the distinction between the mayor’s 48-hour authority under a civil emergency such as a riot or natural disaster, and those needed to address longer-term public health issues. The threats are different, and our responses should be as well.”

“As we see too often today, social media posts can quickly spread misinformation. Unfortunately, we’ve seen those distract from the important work we need to do. These new provisions have nothing to do with gun ownership, or martial law. They simply allow the city to move staff and dollars to manage our response and impose common sense social distancing measures to prevent a crisis. Nothing more,” adds Councilor Davis. 

To clarify what powers are available during a public health emergency, the substitute proposal creates a new “public health emergency” section of legislation, without amending or changing the powers under the city’s existing civil emergency laws. Recognizing the evolving nature of threats to communities, the updated legislation does add cyberattacks and other human-caused disasters to the list of civil emergencies.

What this legislation DOES do:

  • Creates a new section of emergency law allowing the Mayor to declare an emergency in the case or actual or imminent outbreak of infectious disease
  • Allow the Mayor to declare that emergency for up to 30 days, subject to amendment, extension or cancellation by the City Council
  • Limit the kinds and quantities of items retailers may sell per customer per day
  • Encourage private employers to take measures to limit exposures in their locations
  • Order the closing of place of mass assembly, including sporting events, theatres clubs, etc.
  • Order the closing of public and private educational and childcare institutions
  • Cancel city-sponsored events
  • Reallocate city staff and appropriations, as necessary, to address and respond to the threat
  • Requires the Mayor to immediately share any order issued under this provision online, with the media and with the City Council

What this legislation DOES NOT do:

  • Does not address or change decades-old civil emergency laws, granting temporary (48-hour) authority to protect public safety in times of riot or natural disaster.
  • Allow the city to quarantine any individual or seize any personal or private property
  • Does not allow the prohibition of sales of any item during a public health emergency

The City Council is scheduled to meet on Monday, March 16, at 5:00 pm. In response to the Governor’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency and ban on large public gatherings, the City Council meeting on Monday, March 16th will be limited to in-person attendance by the City Councilors, critical Council and Administrative Staff, and credentialed members of the press.

Members of the public will have the ability to view the meeting:

The GOVTV live stream can be accessed at these addresses from most smartphones, tablets, or computers. The video recording of this and all past meetings of the City Council will also remain available for viewing at any time on the City’s website. Council Staff is available to help members of the public access pre-recorded Council meetings on-line at any time during normal business hours. Please call 768-3100 for assistance. Members of the public can also follow the meeting proceedings through the City Council’s social media platforms. Twitter: @abqcitycouncil and Instagram: @abqcitycouncil.

Public Comment: The agenda for the meeting is posted on the City Council website at https://cabq.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

The Council will take general public comment and comment on the meeting’s specific agenda items in written form via email, fax, or hand delivery through 4:45 PM on Monday March 16th. Web Form submission for public comment can be found at: https://www.cabq.gov/council/find-your-councilor/comments-march-16-council-meeting. Hard copies can be faxed to 505-768-3227 or delivered to the City Council office on the 9th Floor of the City/County Government Building at One Civic Plaza. These comments will be distributed to all Councilors for review.