February 24, 2016 – Legislative Update

2016 Virginia General Assembly
February 24, 2016

Both the Senate and the House money committees have offered amendments to the Governor’s proposed budget. Both houses will debate those amendments on Thursday, and then send their proposed changes to the other house for review. We expect each side will reject the proposal of the other side, and send the budget into “conference.” In “conference,” a small group of appointed members from each party and from each house will work out the details between the two sets of proposed amendments.

Meanwhile, each house is also considering substantive legislation that was approved by the other side. Here are some of the bills we are watching:

Juvenile Justice

SB 215 (Favola) would have required the development of regulations that restrict the use of room seclusion in juvenile detention facilities. Although this was approved by the full Senate, it was tabled the House Committee on Courts of Justice, criminal subcommittee. The Department of Juvenile Justice stated that it intends to develop the regulations in any event.

Mental Health

HB 675 (Peace) would allow the use of Auxiliary Grants in Supportive Housing. On Friday, House Appropriations amended it to say that the grants will be available for supportive housing only when someone has lived in an ALF for a year. The House approved it as amended. Senate Rehabilitation approved the bill and sent it to Senate Finance for review.

HB 811 (Bell) requires that notice of a commitment hearing be given to a family member. The amended bill narrows the group who must be given notice to an immediate family member who is involved in the care of the person subject to hearing. The bill will be in Senate Courts of Justice, probably on Monday.   The Senate equivalent, SB 568 (Barker) did not pass the Senate.

HB 1110 (Bell) and SB 567 (Barker) require that when an evaluator in a TDO process concludes that the individual does not meet commitment criteria, a magistrate must still hear and consider information from the person who asked for the emergency custody order. Both bills limit the right to be heard to only those persons present. The proposals do not allow the additional testimony to be a reason to extend the period of emergency custody. SB 567 was approved by the House Courts of Justice.  HB 1110 will be considered by Senate Courts of Justice, probably on Monday.

Visitation during guardianship

HB 342 (Pogge) establishes a duty for a guardian to allow visitors without limitation. It was approved by the House and has been re- assigned to the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services. We expect it will be on the agenda on Friday.

SB 466 (Wagner) establishes a right to visitors for persons under guardianship. It passed the Senate. The House Committee on Courts of Justice approved the bill after “conforming” it to match Delegate Pogge’s HB 342.

Service Animals

SJ 27 (Reeves) designates the first week in August as International Assistance Dog week. The resolution passed the Senate and was approved by the House.

SB 363 (Reeves) makes it a misdemeanor for a person to claim to have a service dog that is not a real service dog, but limits the questions that an entity may ask about the dog to those questions permitted by the ADA.  The bill passed the Senate but was tabled in the House Courts of Justice civil subcommittee.

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The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is to protect and advance the legal, human and civil rights of people with disabilities, to combat and prevent abuse, neglect and discrimination, and to promote independence, choice and self-determination by persons with disabilities.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia monitors bills in the legislature that may be of interest to people with disabilities. We are available to educate policy makers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Please 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.