January 15, 2016 – Legislative Update

2016 Virginia General Assembly

January 15, 2016

The disAbility law Center of Virginia monitors 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.

Legislation would allow the creation of “problem solving” courts, such as mental health treatment courts or drug treatment courts.

HB 96 (Lingamfelter) allows the judicial branch to create special problem solving courts within the criminal division, with a very detailed scheme for their creation and approval.  The law requires the establishment of an advisory council, a detailed planning process, and specific oversight by the Supreme Court.  It is likely that existing mental health court dockets in Virginia would need to be put on hold until they come into compliance with the law.

There are a few proposals that would impact the use of service animals by people with disabilities.

HB 270 (Cole) and SB 363 (Reeves) would make it a criminal offense for someone to fraudulently identify and animal as a service animal.

SJ 27 (Reeves) would establish the first week in August as International Assistance Dog Week.

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.