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House passes bill to merge Health, Human Services Departments

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The North Dakota House has approved a measure to merge the state Health Department with the Department of Human Services.

It may be the longest bill in the session this year.

"I assure you, this is the simplest 263 page bill you will see this session," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Robin Weisz (R-Hurdsfield) told the House.

Weisz said the purpose of the bill is to streamline government.

"This is an opportunity for the Governor, who has many times touted reinventing government and streamlining, well, here's his chance to do that," Weisz said.

Weisz saids the Health Department has around 200 employees, while Human Services has 2600. He said  the Health Officer would still remain, as would the department’s overall administrator, both appointed by the Governor. And Weisz said the two agencies have overlapping responsibilities in certain areas, but may not see eye-to-eye on carrying them out.

The bill passed 73 to 21, and will now be considered by the Senate.

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