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Legislative Update

Vocal Virginia Legislative Update:

Crossover is this week in the General Assembly. This means that all of the bills that successfully passed the House will go to the Senate for their review and all of the bills that successfully passed the Senate will go to the House for their review. This being the case, we would like to take a look at a few bills that are important to the mental health community and where they stand in the legislative process.

First, we are pleased to report that Delegate Robinson’s HB2182 has been engrossed by the House and is expected to go to the Senate following it’s third reading. This legislation, which is supported by Vocal Virginia, includes the following language under the powers and duties of the BHC:

To implement a process to solicit and receive input from (i) individuals who are currently receiving or have received behavioral health services or (ii) individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities or autism spectrum disorders or the family members of such individuals to inform the work of the Commission….

We also support Delegate Coyner’s HB1525. This bill permits the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, direct care service providers, and community boards to hire peer recovery specialists who have been convicted of certain barrier crimes where a history of such offense does not pose a risk in the work of a peer recovery specialist. This bill has been read for the first time and is currently before the House of Delegates. We support this bill’s companion in the Senate, Senator Favola’s SB846, which is the same as HB1525. This bill has passed the Senate.

Senator Bell’s HB2434 would have allowed judges to order an evaluation for mandatory outpatient treatment for certain individuals who were found not guilty in a criminal trial. Vocal Virginia opposed this legislation and it was laid on the table in the House Courts of Justice Committee. Senator Mason’s SB1510, which was similar to Senator Bell’s HB2434 was passed by indefinitely by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Vocal Virginia was concerned about Senator Cosgrove’s SB858, which would eliminate “mental illness” from the list of mental conditions for which a defendant may offer evidence to show his mental condition at the time of an alleged offense. This bill was passed by indefinitely by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Vocal Virginia supports Delegate Walker’s HB1573. This bill directs each health regulatory board within the Department of Health Professions to amend its licensure, certification, and registration applications to remove any existing questions pertaining to mental health conditions and impairment and to include the following questions: (i) Do you have any reason to believe that you would pose a risk to the safety or well-being of your patients or clients?; and (ii) Are you able to perform the essential functions of a practitioner in your area of practice with or without reasonable accommodation? The bill contains an emergency clause. This bill is currently pending before the Senate Committee on Education and Health.

Please stay in touch for future updates about matters that are important to the mental health community. If you wish to contact your legislators on any of these bills, please feel free to click here.

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