Briefing by the Dept. of Public Health and Envt.
COMMITTEE ON JOINT HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
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03:34 PM -- Briefing by the Department of Public Health and Environment
James Martin, Executive Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment, began the briefing regarding the activities of the Department of Public Health and Environment. He described the activities of the department associated with the contamination of the drinking water supply in Alamosa in 2008. He stated that one of the major activities of the department in the past year was to bring the Denver metropolitan area into compliance with the federal ozone standard. He stated that changes were made to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to bring the state into compliance with the standard. He stated that further SIP changes will be required in 2013 to comply with additional federal air quality standards, and the changes to the SIP will be far-reaching.
Mr. Martin continued by describing the department's activities with regard to food recalls. He discussed the budgetary situation for the department. He stated that the department is hoping to find funding for the state laboratory, and that it is his belief that the lab should be funded with General Fund moneys, and that the department is working with the JBC to identify funding to permit the state to match federal moneys for preparedness activities.
Mr. Martin discussed the department's efforts to expand the mobile auto emissions program into Weld County, stating that the universe of options to achieve emissions reductions was narrowing. He stated it was the department's hope to move away from centralized facilities and toward mobile screening. He stated that the department is challenged to provide public health services in the current budgetary situation. He described the cuts proposed by the department for FY 2008-09. He noted that the governor is current reviewing their suggested cuts for FY 2009-10. He stated that the department's goal is to maintain its workforce so that services can recommence with the fiscal situation improves.
Representative Gerou asked how much the department was seeking in funding for the state laboratory. Mr. Martin responded that the request was for about $1 million. Representative Kerr asked for further information on the department's recommendation to eliminate funding for education and testing for Hepatitis C. Dr. Ned Calonge, Chief Public Health Officer for the Department of Public Health and Environment, responded to additional comments from Representative Kefalas regarding proposed cuts to the Hepatitis C program. Mr. Martin further noted that all of the cuts proposed by the department were painful. Representative Gagliardi asked for additional information regarding cuts in funding for school-based health clinics. Dr. Calonge stated that the funding cuts will not affect existing clinics, but will reduce efforts to expand the use of school-based health clinics. Representative Swalm asked for an update regarding the situation with the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. Mr. Martin stated that it appears as though pumping efforts have reduced water levels, and that the threat caused by water blockage in the tunnel has passed. Mr. Martin and Martha Rudolph, Department of Public Health and Environment, responded to a question from Representative Kefalas regarding the recent peanut butter recalls. Ms. Rudolph noted that there have been 12 cases of salmonella in Colorado linked to peanut butter.
Mr. Martin distributed a summary of some of the department's recent activities (Attachment C). Representative Riesberg announced that the House HHS committee would meet upon adjournment of the meeting. The committee adjourned.