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Published July 25 2010

North Dakota Political Notebook: Secretary of state also athletic commissioner

Dear readers,

This week, I stumbled upon the fact that the North Dakota secretary of state is also the state athletic commissioner. Curious as to how that happened and what that means, I visited with Al Jaeger for this week’s Ask Your Government. Here’s what I found out:

The state athletic commissioner is in charge of administering the regulation of boxing, kickboxing, sparring and mixed-fighting competitions.

The first state athletic commission was created by the Legislature in 1935, according to the 2007-2009 biennial report on the secretary of state website.

At the time, the commission consisted of the labor and agriculture commissioner, as well as a physician and an attorney appointed by the governor.

In 1971, the Legislature transferred the duties to the secretary of state. In 1991, the duties were more defined and allowed for the creation of an advisory board.

Until boxer Virgil Hill came along, the athletic commissioner position didn’t involve much, Jaeger said.

The job involves protecting the health and safety of participants, he said. This includes ensuring there are weigh-ins and physicals, observing hand wrapping and checking that there is a doctor on hand.

“There’s a lot of record-keeping,” Jaeger said. “The bottom line is for the protection of the participant and to make sure it’s fair.”

Due to the time involved, Jaeger does not attend the events unless deemed necessary. Instead, two of his staffers are in charge, as well as the advisory commission.

Although boxing isn’t as prevalent as it once was, mixed martial arts events are becoming more popular.

“There’s quite a bit involved actually,” Jaeger said of the position. “It might seem on the surface that there isn’t.”

Highway Patrol marks 75th year

The North Dakota Highway Patrol is celebrating its 75th year.

The patrol was created by the 1935 Legislative Assembly when the state highway commissioner was given authority to appoint the first Highway Patrol superintendent, according to a patrol news release.

In 1936, five men were hired to enforce the laws relating to the protection and use of the state’s public highways. The patrol now has 139 sworn positions.

Notable changes in the past 75 years include a 1947 law making it necessary for all new drivers to take a driver’s examination. The responsibility to conduct these examinations fell to the Highway Patrol.

In 1969, the patrol was charged with regulating all commercial driver training schools in the state. In 1971, responsibilities were expanded to include the operation of the Law Enforcement Training Center in Bismarck.

Other agency highlights include developing an agency K-9 program, coordinating the implementation of an Amber Alert plan for North Dakota, and incorporating aircraft capabilities into enforcement and search and rescue operations.

Past and present employees will commemorate the anniversary with a banquet in August.

Ask Your Government seeks your questions

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask Your Government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman, c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.


Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.