Our View of the Legislature: Mental Health

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This morning, the newly re-named Behavioral Health Commission will meet at Pocahontas Building in Richmond, in advance of the legislative session. We expect the Commission to announce its new Executive Director and possibly to announce any legislation that they intend to promote. You can watch the meeting of the Commission at the link below.

In addition to any legislation that may come from the Behavioral Health Commission (which was formerly known by the nicknames of the Deeds Commission or SJ 47), individual members will introduce legislation that impacts the lives of people with mental illness. Some of those that have already been filed include:

HB 105 (Rasoul) – directing the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities to consider converting Catawba Hospital to a substance abuse treatment facility.

HB 134 (Cherry) – would prohibit anyone who has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment from being released in less than 96 hours.

HB 135 (Cherry) , HB 159 (Byron) – would allow law enforcement to transfer custody of someone under an emergency custody order immediately to an alternative transportation provider. We expect to see a similar bills in the Senate.

HB 163 (Ransone) – deals with emergency custody, temporary detention, and transfer of custody from law enforcement,

SB 49 (Favola) changes the criteria for critically missing person alerts to allow for such an alert when an adult who is at risk is missing. The bill eliminates the current requirement that there must be a suspicion of abduction in order to trigger the alert. This bill is at the request of NAMI-VA.

It is the mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia 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

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is available to educate policymakers about the implications of the decisions before them. Please continue to check back here for updates as the session proceeds, and let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.