Today’s topic is going to be what is the difference between a board or a state agency. The short answer is there is not really a difference between the two. They are both governmental bodies or quasi-governmental bodies that have authority as sent to them or as allowed by them through the North Carolina legislature that allows them to enact a bunch of rules and regulations to govern people’s professional licenses.
The state agency is going to be, for example, the Real Estate Commission or the Department of Insurance, something along those lines. It could also be the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child Development Early Education, the one that regulates childcare licenses for facilities and for some employees. Boards are going to be something like the Medical Board, the State Bar, and the Board of Nursing. It could be a bunch of different ones.
One of the main differences between the two is who represents government agencies, like state agencies. Those attorneys are going to be through the Department of Justice, and they are going to be assistant attorney generals. A lot of Boards will either have their own counsel that is in house, which may mean that they are directly working for them, and the only thing that attorney does is work for that board. However, more commonly, the board may have outside counsel, which means they hire a law firm to represent them in matters with the board, and that would be assisting with the hearing process, the complaint process against licensees, and those that are trying to acquire licensure that get rejected. The attorney can help advise the board on that and also represent the board in any hearings that come up regarding those as well.
The other main difference is where the hearing is typically held. State agencies typically will go through the Office of Administrative Hearings, which is the governmental structure for hearings and administrative law. A judge presides on that. For most boards, the contested hearings will be heard by the actual board members or a committee of board members that are designated to hear contested cases. So are, again, that is another slight difference, there are also agencies, such as the Real Estate Commission, where the commission will hear the contested case and they will have a general counselor or somebody else that presides over it. There are also boards that will file with the Office of Administrative Hearings and have an administrative law judge hear the case instead of the actual board, so that they can kind of go a little bit both ways on that.
So really, the biggest difference is the attorneys that represent them. If it is a state agency, they are going to be represented by a Department of Justice employee, typically an assistant attorney general.