An Online Database on State Laws for Local Boards of Health
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.
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." The database includes information from all 50 states and the District of Columbia on state statutes governing:
- Powers and duties of local boards of health.
- Local boards of health jurisdiction levels (i.e., whether the boards function at the district, county or city and town level).
- Rules for appointment or election of members of local boards of health.
- Created a print version of the database, which can be ordered by phone (419-353-7714).
- 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. (Abstract available online.)
- 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 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.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $75,000 from August 2006 to December 2007 to support this project.
After the Grant
The project team is preparing an article for publication in a peer-reviewed public health practice journal.
The survey confirmed the concerns of RWJF program staff that very few members of local boards of health were aware of the laws, regulations and responsibilities that should be guiding their work. Most members receive little, if any, specific training to help them understand their roles and responsibilities, and when provided with specific examples of the laws and policies that describe their roles and responsibilities, most of the individuals surveyed felt they were hard to understand.
Even though state statutes confirm that local boards of health are responsible for the oversight of local public health agency performance, Foundation staff decided it was not reasonable for local board of health members to fulfill their roles and responsibilities due to limited education and training. For these reasons, RWJF has provided funding to Marie Fallon at NALBOH and Rachel Stephens at the North Carolina Public Health Institute to develop a white paper and training and education plan for local board of health members (ID# 063966). They are assessing what kinds of content and educational format and structure are needed to develop an effective training program for local board of health members. RWJF program staff expects to receive a concept proposal some time in the fall of 2008 from NALBOH outlining a proposed training program.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Identifying Legal Authority for Public Health Governance in the United States
National Association of Local Boards of Health (Bowling Green, OH)
Dates: August 2006 to December 2007
Marie M. Fallon, M.H.S.A.
Report prepared by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Marian Bass
Program Officer: Terry L. Bazzarre