January 14, 2014 Legislative Highlights

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The Senate Finance subcommittee on Health and Human Resources heard several presentations on “behavioral health” on Monday afternoon.   As noted yesterday, the legislature will be considering many bills and budget amendments relating to the Commonwealth’s mental health services system.  In addition to the areas noted yesterday, there are other  bills dealing with the process for involuntary commitment.

Currently, state law requires that a specific treating facility must be identified before issuance of a temporary detention order.  Several bills suggest eliminating that requirement, subject to a “good faith” effort to keep looking for a facility.  See e.g. HB 243 (Yost) , SB 200 (Howell).

There are proposals for the creation of a registry of available psychiatric beds.  See eg   HB 599 (Herring), SB 126 (Newman), SB 263 (Deeds).  The Senate version of these bills may be considered in Senate Education and Health committee Thursday morning.  We note, however, that the registry is already in development by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

There is also legislation that addresses the right of people with mental illness to possess access to guns see e.g. HB 743 (McClellan), HB 298 (Loupassi).

Many other bills, such as those dealing with the restoration of voting rights, will have an impact on people with disabilities as well as others in the Commonwealth.