January 13, 2014 Legislative Highlights

The Virginia Legislature will be considering many bills and budget amendments relating to the Commonwealth’s mental health services system.  There are several bills that suggest changes to the process for obtaining treatment through an emergency custody order, temporary detention order and involuntary commitment.

Currently, a person in a mental health crisis can be held for four hours, with a possible two hour extension, before a hearing on further detention must be held.  Proposals under consideration range from making an additional two hour extension available, to extending the entire emergency detention period to 24 hours.  See e.g. HB 242 (Yost), HB 294 (Robert Bell), HB 478 (Villanueva), HB 583 (Obannon), HB 621 (Mason), and  SB 260 (Deeds).

Currently, a person who has been held under an ECO and for whom it has been determined a temporary detention order is needed can be held for an additional 48 hours, until a commitment hearing can be held.  There are proposals, and budget funding, to extend that period to 72 hours.

See e.g. HB 241 (Yost), HB 323 (OBannon), HB 479 (Villanueva), and SB 115 (Barker).

These bills, and others relating to the commitment process, will be heard by the Senate and House committees on Courts of Justice, subcommittees on mental health.  See the meeting schedule at http://leg1.state.va.us for more information.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia may educate policymakers about the impact of proposed legislation. We urge you to let us know if there is an important issue or proposal that you think we should know about.  Contact us at info@dLCV.org or at 1-800-552-3962 .