State Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover) is calling for a full-blown overhaul of the state's Department of Public Health.
In particular, Lyons feels the department has overstepped its reach and is imposing on the rights of parents when it comes to childhood obesity and the overall health and well-being of children.
He said the so-called "BMI Fat Letters" being mandated by the DPH serve to single out children.
"This Department of Public Health is in desperate need of top-to-bottom reform," Lyons. "The DPH acts like bureaucratic bullies, when it deals with families and school children. At the same time, this bureaucracy has manifestly failed to protect public health and public safety in its disastrous lack of oversight of pharmaceutical manufacturers and its mishandling of state drug labs."
Lyons recently introduced a bill called "An Act to Protect the Privacy of Children" that he says would begin the reform process and end bureaucratic overreach. The amendment would effectively ban the DPH from collecting Body Mass Index information on students.
"Parents started contacting me," Lyons said. "They were concerned about bureaucratic interference in families. Mothers and fathers were asking: `How does this stigmatizing by an intrusive state bureaucracy help to educate our children?'"
Having worked to reform the DPH on Beacon Hill, Lyons pointed to this unfunded mandate as another example of the insensitivity to families and overall ineptness that permeates the bureaucracy. "Here is another attempt by the Patrick Administration to micromanage local communities," Lyons said. "I am disappointed that Governor Patrick has consistently opposed our efforts to increase Local Aid, which is essential to our schools. Meanwhile, his bureaucracy burdens our communities with additional state mandates that are neither justified nor funded."
Lyons also blasted the DPH for the recent state drug testing lab scandal, which he says has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and has put hundreds of criminal convictions at risk of being overturned. He claims the DPH has also failed in its responsibility to inspect pharmaceutical drug manufacturers in the Massachusetts.
“Where does an administration that has mishandled matters vital to public health and public safety," asked Lyons, "have the arrogance to interfere in family life and burden local communities?
"I think we can all agree that parents, families, and local schools are far more responsible, dependable, and conscientious than this intrusive state bureaucracy," said Lyons.