Los Angeles News
Health Initiative Blocked By Judge
By Alex Nochez
Jan 29, 2014 - 1:57:34 AM

LOS ANGELES — An initiative designed to create a city health department was prevented from appearing on the June ballot on January 24.
A second initiative was filed in November.


The “City of Los Angeles Public Health Protection Act” was struck down by Superior Court Judge Michael P. Linfield. City Attorney Mike Feuer, whose department has been fighting the initiative since last year, released a statement praising the judge's decision.


“Today's ruling protects the public's health and saves precious taxpayer dollars from being wasted on a vote on a patently unlawful initiative,” said the City Attorney.


The initiative, created by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), sought to construct a city health department in lieu of the contract the city has with Los Angeles County for health services. Not only would the initiative rescind that contract, but it would also use the revenue from the enforcement of the Public Health Code that normally goes to the county to fund the creation of the city health department. After the contract's termination, the city would be prohibited from entering another contract for health services from the county.


The City Attorney argued in a complaint filed in September 30 that the initiative would pose a severe health risk to residents due to the disruption caused in the time that it would take to establish the new department. In addition, the argument was made that the necessary funds originally meant for the county would be insufficient for the new health department and that only the city would be able to terminate that kind of contract as designated by state law.


The Los Angeles Times reported that the AHF chose not to defend their initiative in court. In fact, the foundation filed a second initiative on November 8 called the “Creation of a Los Angeles City Health Commission.” The City Clerk's office released a statement on December 4 stating that the initiative had been approved for circulation for the collection of signatures from city residents.


This second initiative would, instead of outright creating a new city health department, create a “City Health Commission” comprised of 15 members chosen by the Los Angeles City Council, who would be updated on city health services by the commission every year. In addition, the City Health Commission would review the county's contracts with the city for health services and evaluate whether or not the City Council should continue to contract the county.


Because of the date of filing for the initiative, it would appear on the November ballot should it receives the 61,486 signatures needed by April.

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