Board of Health Rulemaking Authority: A Primer for Local Boards of Health

Course currently undergoing revision. Registration will open by June 30.

Overview | Objectives | Topics | Sponsors | Credits | System Requirements | Registration and Fees | Get more information


Many volunteers who serve on local boards of health do not necessarily come from a background in public health, yet, as board members, you are responsible for rulemaking, adjudicating disputes about public health issues, as well as policy development and administration in public health. In this context, orientation training for boards of health is crucial.

Once you have completed the Orientation for Local Boards of Health module and have served as a board member for a while, the time may come when you will be asked to work with your board to make a rule. Rulemaking is an essential function of boards of health. However, the making of rules is a complex task and to this end, this module is designed to support you in this endeavor.

This module was designed to bolster your knowledge about the rulemaking responsibility, boundaries and procedures by answering some of the fundamental questions about board of health rules. First, what is a board of health rule? Second, what kind of rules may a board of health adopt? Third, what is the board’s general authority to make rules as well as the limitations on this authority? Finally, we will briefly review a few of the procedural requirements that North Carolina law imposes on the rulemaking process. While these questions seem quite basic, you will be surprised to see how complicated the answers have become over the years.

Course Objectives

  • Define a board of health rule and distinguish a rule from a county ordinance or a policy.
  • Explain rulemaking authority, as it applies to a local board of health.
  • List the specific limitations that apply to rulemaking.
  • Determine whether a rule includes appropriate public health concerns and is within a board of health’s general authority to write.
  • Explain the process for proposing and passing a rule.


The following topics are covered in the Board of Health Rulemaking Authority: A Primer for Local Boards of Health module:

  • Section 1: What is a Board of Health (BOH) rule?
  • Section 2: Rules that a Board of Health May Adopt (This section is currently being updated.)
    • Part 1: Authority to Make Rules
    • Part 2: Special Limitations on Rulemaking
  • Section 3: Procedural Requirements for Rulemaking
    • Part 1: Rulemaking Checklist
    • Part 2: Rulemaking Process



There are no continuing education credits available for completing the module. However, a certificate of completion is available. To obtain a certificate, you must complete the evaluation form linked at the end of the module. Then follow the instructions for requesting and printing a certificate of completion.

System Requirements

In order to successfully complete the online module, you must have access to a computer with:

  • A sound card (most fairly new computers have a sound card already installed)
  • Reliable, high-speed internet access
  • An up-to-date web browser with JavaScript, Cookie, and CSS capabilities, such as:
    • Mozilla Firefox 11 or MS Internet Explorer 8 or later
  • The two free plug-ins:
  • Adobe Reader X or later
  • Adobe Flash Player 11.0 or later

You can also test your system to see if you have the minimum technical requirements by completing the online skills test.


There is no fee for completing this module.


Course currently undergoing revision. Registration will open by June 30.

For more information

Health directors or board chairpersons who have questions about module content can contact Rachel Wilfert by phone at 919-966-4085 or by email at She will be able to assist you with questions about content and process. Another good resource is the North Carolina Public Health Law website sponsored by the UNC School of Government.

If you have questions or need assistance in completing the module, contact Jackie McIver by phone at 919-966-3309 or by email at