2018 Virginia General Assembly
March 9, 2018
The 2018 session is scheduled to conclude tomorrow, although there are reports that the session may need to be extended in order to resolve budget issues, especially surrounding the possibility of Medicaid expansion. In the meantime, conference committees are completing their work on disputed bills. Approved bills must then go to the Governor, who may suggest amendments, may approve the bill, or may veto it. If a bill comes out of the legislature this late in the session, the Governor has 30 days to review it.
Because of the ongoing dispute around health care, depending on what is in the final budget will undoubtedly matter to people with disabilities, especially those with mental health needs.
Here is the status of non-budget bills that may affect people with mental illness:
Relating to Suicide
HB 569 (Gooditis) requires the Department of Behavioral Health to provide an annual report on suicide prevention activities. Approved by the legislature and sent to the Governor. The Governor’s response is due on April 9th.
Relating to NGRI or incompetent to stand trial status
HB 52 (Hope) allows for an evaluation of whether someone is competent to stand trial to be done on an outpatient basis if appropriate. Approved by the legislature and sent to the Governor. The Governor’s response is due on April 9th.
HB 53 (Hope) allows for an evaluation of whether someone is “not guilty by reason of insanity” to be done on an outpatient basis if appropriate. Approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor.
HB 1193 (Bell, Robert) requires that a person convicted of a crime, and also found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, must be incarcerated after any period of inpatient mental health treatment. The amended version reverses the order in the proposed legislation, stating instead that the individual will serve their correctional time first, and then be transferred to a hospital for inpatient treatment. Approved by the legislature.
Relating to forced mental health treatment
HB 934 (Hope) defines the circumstances under which a jail can obtain an order for forced treatment of an inmate. Different versions of the bill were approved by the House and by the Senate, so a conference committee has been established to resolve differences. The version approved by the Senate recognizes a person’s advanced directive and asks for assurances that a specific jail has the resources to manage forced treatment.
Relating to Mental Health training
HB 1412 (Helsel) requires fire fighters and emergency personnel to develop training curricula about mental health. Approved by the legislature.
SB 670 (Deeds) requires firefighters and emergency personnel to develop training in mental health awareness. Approved by the legislature.
HB 1088 (Boysko) requires the Department of Health to develop protocols for hospital security staff to be able to identify and address mental illness situations. Approved by the legislature and sent to the Governor. The Governor’s response is due on April 9th.
Other mental health bills
SB 392 (Barker) eases the requirement that a parent must get notice if a minor is subject to an emergency custody order. Current law requires a petition for TDO be dismissed if the parent does not get notice. SB 392 allows the petition to proceed so long as a reasonable effort was made to provide notice. The House also added the requirement that there be proof that notice was served on the parent. Approved by the legislature.
The disAbility law Center of Virginia seeks to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. Contact us at email@example.com or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.