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What Legal Powers Do Health Departments Have? Overview of Administrative Law: Part 1

A Public Health Law Academy training

Good Governance

This free training — Part 1 of our three-part series on administrative law — uses real-life examples to illustrate the legal principles that guide administrative agencies as they carry out their duties.

Health departments are authorized to implement and enforce a multitude of public health laws that regulate the actions of individuals and private entities. Due to the broad reach of their authority and the risk that they will infringe on individuals’ civil rights, it’s critical for public health practitioners to apply key principles and rules of administrative law in order to shape equitable health outcomes.

After completing this training, you will be able to

  • Explain what administrative law is and how health departments can work within the guidelines of administrative law to shape equitable health outcomes;
  • Describe what administrative agencies are, what they do, and what legal powers they have;
  • Discuss why administrative law is important for health departments and population health outcomes; and
  • Understand the limits on public health agencies' powers.

Administrative law touches nearly every aspect of modern life. Each day, public health practitioners encounter administrative law in their work with health departments, outbreak response, food safety, lead paint inspections, retail licensing, tobacco control, and eligibility requirements for public benefits. This course is designed for individuals who work in or with health departments and can benefit you no matter what area of practice or what types of regulatory activities you work on.

The concepts discussed in this training lay the foundation for Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, which cover rulemaking, equitable enforcement, and other areas in which administrative law shapes day-to-day work in state and local health departments.

If you are a TRAIN user, please register through TRAIN. To learn more about earning the Public Health Law Academy Certificate, see the complete training plan

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