The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is following and speaking to bills in the legislature concerning the rights of people with behavioral health concerns throughout the session. Our mission is 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.
As we approach “crossover” in the General Assembly, bills that have passed the House will be sent to the Senate to work on, and bills that have passed the Senate will be sent to the House. Here are some of the bills impacting mental health that we have been following, and their current status.
Bills that impact the ECO/TDO (Emergency Custody/Temporary Detention) period:
- HB 1792 (Ransone) would allow a person to be detained in an ER for 24 hours if, due to intoxication, they are unable to make an informed decision and the medical standard of care calls for observation, testing, or treatment. This bill has passed the House on a 100-0 vote.
- HB 1976 (Bell) allows the director of a facility of temporary detention to release an individual who no longer meets commitment criteria. This bill is in the process of being heard on the floor of the House. (See SB 1299.)
- SB 1299 (Deeds) allows the director of a facility of temporary detention to release an individual who no longer meets commitment criteria. This bill has passed the Senate 39-0. (See HB 1976.)
- SB 872 (Newman) addresses alternative transportation for people who are subject to an ECO. This bill has passed the Senate on a 40-0 vote.
Bills that look like MOT (mandatory outpatient treatment):
- SB 1174 (Mason) addresses diverting a defendant of certain crimes to court-ordered treatment. This bill was heard by the Senate Committee on Education and Health where it died on a 15-0 vote. (See HB 2339.)
- HB 2339 (Bell) addresses diverting a defendant of certain crimes to court-ordered treatment. This bill was heard by the House Courts of Justice committee where it died 8-0. (See SB 1174.)
- HB 2434 (Bell) allows a defendant found not guilty to be ordered for a mandatory treatment evaluation. This bill was heard by the House Courts of Justice Committee where it died 20-0. (See SB 1510.)
- SB 1510 (Mason) allows a defendant found not guilty to be ordered for a mandatory treatment evaluation. This bill was heard by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary where it died 11-4. (See HB 2434.)
Bills that address what happens if an individual commits assault while in a mental health crisis:
- HB 1835 (Bell) expands the situation where a person making an oral threat to a healthcare provider who is rendering emergency care during an ECO or TDO or involuntary hospitalization order will be not subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor. This bill passed the House on an 84-15 vote and has been assigned to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
- HB 2241 (Willett) would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to commit a battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such an individual is a human services worker who is engaged in the performance of his duties. The bill would have required that, upon conviction, such an individual’s sentence shall include 15 days in jail, two days of which shall be a mandatory minimum. The bill defined “human services worker” as any full-time or part-time employee of a human resources agency, as defined in § 15.2-964, or of a political subdivision or local government responsible for providing the same services. This bill died in the House Courts of Justice Committee on a vote of 7-0.
- HB 1525 (Coyner) Allows Certified Peer Recovery Specialists with certain barrier crimes to be considered for employment in a substance abuse treatment program. This bill passed 21-0 out of the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee and is in the process of being heard on the House floor. Should it pass on the House side it will be assigned to a Senate committee later this week.
- SB 846 (Favola) is the companion bill to HB 1525. It has passed the Senate and should ne be assigned to the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee now.
Additional bills of interest:
- HB 1908 (Hope) allows for a defendant of a misdemeanor charge to be evaluated for a Temporary Detention Order as part of their competency evaluation. This bill passed the House 98-0 and is assigned to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
- HB 1573 (Walker) removes questions about past mental health conditions from licensure, certification, and registration applications. This bill has passed the House 98-0 and is assigned to the Senate Committee on Education and Health.
- HB 2182 (Robinson) creates an Advisory Committee to the Behavioral Health Commission made up of individuals who are currently or have in the past received behavioral health services. This bill, with amendments, passed the House on a 100-0 vote.
- HB 2192 (Rasoul) Directs DBHDS to transform Catawba Hospital into a place to access a continuum of substance abuse treatment and recovery services and geriatric mental health care. This bill passed out of committee on a unanimous vote and is currently in the process of being heard on the floor of the House.
- SB 858 (Cosgrove) eliminated “mental illness” from the evidence that can be presented to the court for a criminal charge. This was assigned to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee where it died on a 9-5 vote.
We are available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Please let us know of any issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.