February 8, 2016 – Legislative Update

2016 Virginia General Assembly
February 8, 2016

The mental health subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice committee met for a long afternoon last Friday.  The committee struggled with two bills in particular, which they ultimately agreed to “report” – to bring to full committee — but with the understanding that the patron would meet with stakeholders and work out remaining problems before that.  Likewise, this morning, the Senate Courts of Justice briefly considered the two troubling bills, but agreed to hold off any decision until after the stakeholders meetings.

We expect that meeting to be late Tuesday afternoon; no definite time or location has been announced. Here is the status as of Monday morning:

HB 606 (Bell) This legislation would have removed the option for voluntary admission prior to the issuance of a TDO.   Voluntary admission would be allowed only after a TDO is issued.  After some discussion, and the administration’s opposition noted, the patron withdrew the proposal.

HB 811 (Bell), HB 1110 (Bell) and HB 1112 (Bell) all create an obligation to involve or inform an individual’s family or personal representative in various phases of a temporary detention proceeding or an involuntary commitment proceeding.   These bills were the subject of hours of discussion, with the patron agreeing to include language to agree to an exception where family notice would cause harm to the individual. HB 811 and HB 1110 were heavily amended and “reported” to the full committee, but with the understanding that the patron would meet with the stakeholders to review the amendments and suggest further changes as necessary

SB 567 (Barker) is identical to HB 1110; SB 568 (Barker) is identical to HB 1112.  Senator Barker asked that these bills be held until Wednesday, pending further discussion with the stakeholders.

Other Mental Health Bills:

HB 364 (Loupassi) increases the amount to be paid to court appointed attorneys. The subcommittee recommended reporting but referring then to the House Committee on Appropriations, where it is expected to die.

HB 523 (LeMunyon) stresses that information may be shared between colleges and treating professionals only to the extent allowed by law. The subcommittee took no action on this bill.

HB 616 (Bell) requires that a person be advised of their right to create an advanced directive prior to discharge from a treatment facility.  The subcommittee recommended reporting to the full committee.

HB 785 (Adams) excuses very small law enforcement agencies (two persons or one person agencies) from responsibilities under a temporary detention order.  The subcommittee tabled this bill.

SB 566 (Barker) clarifies that for the purposes of petitioning for the involuntary psychiatric treatment of an inmate in a local correctional facility, the petition shall be filed by the sheriff or other officer in charge of the local correctional facility where the inmate is incarcerated. The Senate Committee on Courts of Justice approved this bill this morning.


The disAbility Law Center of Virginia will be monitoring 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.

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.