An Online Database on State Laws for Local Boards of Health

Identifying legal authority for public health governance in the United States

The National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH) researched state statutes governing local boards of health. Staff then created an online, searchable database of state laws governing the powers, duties, composition requirements and rules for appointment or election of members of local boards of health.

Key Results

  • The project team:

    • Researched state statutes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia governing local boards of health.
    • Created an online searchable database entitled: "Legal Authority For Local Boards of Health: A State-by-State Guide."
    • Created a print version of the database, which can be ordered by phone.
    • Analyzed in greater depth the laws on local boards of health in NALBOH's east Great Lakes Region, which includes New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
    • Presented findings from their research at:
      • The November 2007 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Washington.
      • The November 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Public Health Education in Alexandria, Va.
      • The September 2007 annual meeting of the National Association of Local Boards of Health in Anchorage, Alaska.

Key Findings

  • Key research findings include:

    • The most common board of health jurisdiction levels are district, county and city or town. Most state statutes provide for two or more jurisdiction levels.
    • Most state codes include some description of the appointment of members to local boards of health. Nine states also provide election mechanisms for use in specific situations.
    • Many state statutes describe different selection processes for each board jurisdiction type. However, 33 include appointment by a board of county commissioners, board of supervisors and/or by a county or city executive.
    • Twenty states include terms of four, five or six years in their statutes for at least one Board of Health jurisdiction.
    • Twenty-seven states require or encourage a physician on most boards of health.
    • Only three states explicitly require knowledge and/or interest in public health or sanitation in selection criteria for members.
    • Fourteen states indicated vesting of general budget oversight powers to local boards of health.

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