Jan 9, 2013 Legislative Highlights

The General Assembly session began on January 9, 2013 at noon. Many bills have been pre-filed, but many more will be filed in the early days of the session.

The Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy is available to advise and educate legislators and other policy makers about the implications of their legislative decisions for the rights of people with disabilities in Virginia. If you know of a bill or a budget item of particular interest to people with disabilities, please let VOPA know about it. You can email us at general.vopa@vopa.virginia.gov or you may call us at 1-800-552-3962.

VOPA is tracking several bills that affect the rights of people with disabilities. This is a partial listing of bills we are watching, organized by subject matter:

Voting Rights
Mental Health and Mandatory Outpatient Treatment
Education and Special Education
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Assisted Living Facilities
Guardianship
Community Integration

Voting Rights

HB 1337 (Cole) − Eliminates some forms of identification that can be used as proof of ID at the polling place.

HB 1353 (Morrisey) − Allows for absentee voting for any reason.

HB 1361 (Scott, JM) − Allows for absentee voting for any reason.

HB 1471 (Watts) − Allows residents of ALFs to vote absentee.

HB 1592 (Ware, O) − Established early voting.

HB 1599 (Anderson) − Allows for the creation of voting centers@ instead of polling places for use in primary elections.

SB 722 (Carrico) − Allows an electoral board to designate a hospital administrator to be able to provide applications for absentee ballots.

SB 743 (Miller) − Allows for electronic absentee voting.

Mental Health and Mandatory Outpatient Treatment

HB 1423 (O’Bannon) − Clarifies that the CSB where a person resides may petition for a hearing to consider mandatory outpatient treatment prior to discharge.

HB 1680 (Yost) − Extends the time of a temporary detention order to 72 hours from 48 hours.

Education and Special Education

HB 1344 (Bell, Richard) − Establishes that the School for the Deaf and Blind may be the least restrictive environment.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

HB 1444 (O’Bannon) − Allows staff of facilities licensed by the Department of Behavioral Health to be able to administer insulin and epinephrine (epi-pens).

SB (Puller) − Eliminating the exception for a COPN for ICFs/ID for 12 beds or fewer. A recommendation of the Disability Commission.

Assisted Living Facilities

SB 708 (Hanger) − To allow for the self administration of medications by residents of assisted living facilities.

HB 1511 (Hope) − Requires emergency generators at ALFs.

Guardianship

SB 759 (Edwards) − Various amendments to guardianship laws.

Community Integration

HB1519 (Villanueva) − Extends Community Integration Commission to 2016.

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VOPA’s mission is through zealous and effective advocacy and legal representation, to protect and advance legal, human and civil rights of persons with disabilities, combat and prevent abuse, neglect and discrimination, and promote independence, choice, and self determination by persons with disabilities.

The Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy is an independent state agency. However, VOPA will transition to a private non-profit organization by October 1, 2013. The general assembly will consider legislation this session that will address issues related to this transition. See HB 1844.