Transitions in State Public Health Law

A comparison of how four states enacted the Turning Point Model State Public Health Act (Turning Point Act) revealed three factors crucial to modernizing public health laws.

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative created the Turning Point Act, a framework for modernizing public health law, in 2003. The authors of this comparative study examined how four states implemented the Turning Point Act. They hypothesized that states would enact new legislation differently according to underlying policy conditions. To test their hypothesis the authors selected states with differing public health laws and amendments. Analysis of interviews with key legislative players revealed details of what helped or hindered the legislative process.

Key Finding:

  • Gap analysis, comparing specific components of the Turning Point Act to existing public health laws, played a crucial role in helping three states pass laws to strengthen their public health systems.
  • Advanced organization and planning (i.e., agenda setting) was critical for states that successfully used the Turning Point Act to craft public health laws.

In addition to discussing factors that facilitated the successful adoption of the Turning Point Act, the authors examine obstacles to modernizing public health laws.