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54-57-01. Office of administrative hearings - Agency defined - Administrative agency defined

1. A state office of administrative hearings is created.
 
2. The office is under the direction of a director of administrative hearings who must be free of any association that would impair the director's ability to function officially in a fair and objective manner. The director must be an attorney at law in good standing, admitted to the bar in this state, and currently licensed by the state board of law examiners. The director of administrative hearings must be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate and shall hold office for a term of six years, the term beginning July first of the year of appointment and ending June thirtieth of the sixth calendar year after appointment.
 
3. The director of administrative hearings may preside as an administrative law judge at administrative hearings and may employ or appoint additional administrative law judges to serve in the office as necessary to fulfill the duties of office as described in section 54-57-04 and section 28-32-31 and to provide administrative law judges to preside at administrative hearings as requested by agencies. The director of administrative hearings may employ or appoint only such additional administrative law judges who are attorneys at law in good standing, admitted to the bar in the state, and currently licensed by the state board of law examiners. Administrative law judges employed by the director before August 1, 1995, need not be attorneys at law and may be designated by the director to preside at any administrative proceedings or adjudicative proceedings under section 54-57-03. The director may delegate to an employee the exercise of a specific statutory power or duty as deemed advisable, subject to the director's control, including the powers and duties of a deputy director. All administrative law judges must be classified employees, except that the director of administrative hearings must be an unclassified employee who only may be removed, during a term of office, for cause. Each administrative law judge must have a demonstrated knowledge of administrative practices and procedures and must be free of any association that would impair the person's ability to function officially in a fair and objective manner.
 
4. The director of administrative hearings may employ the necessary support staff required by the office. Support staff must be classified employees.
 
5. The director of administrative hearings shall develop categories of positions in the classified service under class titles for the appointment or employment of administrative law judges and support staff in consultation with and approved by the director of North Dakota human resource management services, including the salary to be paid for each position or category of position.
 
6. The director shall file a report with the governor and the state advisory council for administrative hearings not later than the first day of December of each odd-numbered year. The report must provide information regarding all administrative hearings conducted by the office of administrative hearings during the previous biennium. The report must provide information regarding meeting case processing guidelines for each agency, the cost of hearings for each agency, the decisions issued for each agency, and the results of the office of administrative hearings' service survey.
 
7. In this chapter, unless the context or subject matter otherwise requires, "agency" means each board, bureau, commission, department, or other administrative unit of the executive branch of state government whether headed by an appointed or elected official.
 
8. In this chapter, unless the context or subject matter otherwise requires, "administrative agency" means that term as defined in section 28-32-01.