January 13, 2016 – Legislative Update

2016 Virginia General Assembly

The 2016 legislative session in Virginia has begun.  This is a “long” session meaning that the legislature plans to be in session for 60 days, rather than the 45 days of the “short” session.

The disAbility law Center of Virginia will be monitoring developments 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, through zealous and effective advocacy and legal representation, 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.

We anticipate several pieces of proposed legislation that will impact the lives of people with mental illness, including

HB 96 (Lingamfelter) creates “problem solving” courts, which may include mental health courts

HB 255 (Greason) requires insurance to cover costs of applied behavioral analysis

HB 297 (Austin) changes the definition of an assisted living facility to be more than seven beds.  A facility with six beds or fewer would not be covered by the ALF regulation oversight not would the individuals involved be eligible for auxiliary grants.

HB 606 (Bell) requires that a person who has been found to meet commitment standards and who agrees to a voluntary commitment must be informed that the person will lose their right to possess a firearm.

HB 794 (Leftwich) creates an exclusion from the death penalty any person who was seriously mentally ill at the time of commission of the crime

We also expect to see a bill from the “SJ 47” committee, sometimes known as the Deeds work group that proposes to changes the involuntary commitment process, so that even if a mental health professional determines that an individual does not meet the standard for commitment, a magistrate still must hear the position of the family or the petitioner.  The bill will require that the closest relative of an individual under an ECO must be given notice of the ECO.