Legislature to consider merging Health and Human Services Departments | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Legislature to consider merging Health and Human Services Departments

Jan 18, 2021

The Legislature will be considering merging the state Health Department with the Department of Human Services.

Rep. Robin Weisz (R-Hurdsfield) is the main sponsor of that bill. Weisz said this has been talked about for a number of years. And he said after the Division of Environmental Quality was moved out of the Health Department, and became its own agency, it seems a good time to make this move.

"It's not like we're trying to make a 'super-agency,'" Weisz said in an interview.

Weisz said with around 200 employees, the Health Department is about one-tenth the size of Human Services. He said he believes a merger could lead to some efficiencies.

"You have cases where the Department of Human Services licenses a facility, and the Department of Health is the one that regulates life and safety for that facility," Weisz said. "There's already overlap. So I think efficiency, collaboration -- and to me, it just makes sense."

Sen. Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo) worked as the director for Cass County Social Services. She said she welcomes the discussion.

"Ther's significant overlap in some areas," Hogan said. "I think the relationship always needs to be strengthened."

Hogan said sometimes, it's administration that needs to be clearer, and sometime, it's a matter of  improved collaboration.

The bill is scheduled for a Wednesday morning hearing in the House Human Services Committee. Weisz is the committee chairman.