Bill would make state health officer, director of Human Services elected positions | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Bill would make state health officer, director of Human Services elected positions

Jan 27, 2021

A state senator has introduced a bill to make the State Health Officer and the director of the Department of Human Services elected positions.

Right now, both are appointed.

Sen. Jason Heitkamp (R-Wyndmere) said the suggestion comes from a constituent. He said the Health Officer has a lot of power, as evidenced by the orders during the pandemic emergency.

"If the state health officer has the power to shut down a lot of our state, it should be elected," Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp said he has seen a number of health officers since Gov. Doug Burgum (R) was elected.

"He's appointed people and gotten rid of them," Heitkamp said. "This is something we should look into, that the person gets elected, so that they just can't be used to shut down the state, and then gotten rid of, if they won't do the whims of the Governor."

Heitkamp said in his bill, the two would be elected on the “no-party” ballot.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jeff Magrum (R-Hazelton).