March 11, 2016 – Legislative Highlights

2016 Virginia General Assembly
March 11, 2016

The end of the 2016 General Assembly session is almost in sight. “Sine die” is Saturday, March 12th.

By the close of the session, the House of Delegates and the Senate will jointly agree to a set of amendments to the Governor’s proposed budget. That package of amendments will then go to the Governor, who may approve or veto specific items, or may suggest changes. The General Assembly will then “reconvene” on April 20th and make a final decision on the state’s budget.

Meanwhile, most all of the proposed bills are completed – either passed or defeated. The bills that passed now go to the Governor for review. As with the budget, he may approve, veto, or suggest changes. Here are some that we were watching:

Children with Disabilities

HB 1213 (Albo) allows a court to consider evidence of an IEP where a child is prosecuted for a crime that may be related to his disability.   The child’s attorney must give notice of the intent to introduce the IEP 10 days prior to trial. The bill has been approved by both the House and the Senate. The Governor’s deadline is April 11th.

Service Animals

SB 363 (Reeves) makes it a misdemeanor crime to claim to have a service animal that is not really a service animal. The senate version of the bill included protections found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, that no business can ask for proof of a service animal, but can ask what task the animal performs. The House removed all ADA-related protections, and the Senate agreed.

SJ 27 (Reeves) designates the first week in August as International Assistance Dog week. The resolution passed the Senate and the House.

Mental Health

HB 616 (Bell) requires that an individual must be told about the possibility of creating an advance directive prior to being released from an involuntary commitment. The measure was approved by the House and the Senate. The Governor’s deadline is April 11th.

HB 675 (Peace) allows the use of Auxiliary Grants in Supportive Housing, but only when someone has lived in an ALF for a year. Approved by both the House and the Senate. The Governor’s deadline is April 11th.

HB 1110 (Bell) and SB 567 (Barker) require that when an evaluator in a TDO process concludes that the individual does not meet commitment criteria, a magistrate must still hear and consider information from the person who asked for the emergency custody order. Both bills limit the right to be heard to only those persons present. The proposals do not allow the additional testimony to be a reason to extend the period of emergency custody. Both bills have been approved by both houses. The Governor’s deadline is April 11th.

Visitation during guardianship

HB 342 (Pogge) and SB 466 (Wagner) establish a duty for a guardian to allow visitors without limitation. The Governor’s deadline is April 11th.

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The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is 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.