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Vocal Virginia 2023 Legislative Blog

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Vocal Virginia 2023 Legislative Blog

The General Assembly adjourned on February 25, 2023. All of the bills that passed both chambers have gone to the Governor’s office where one of four things may happen.

  1. The Governor may sign the bill.

  2. The Governor may take no action, allowing the bill to become law without his signature.

  3. The Governor may amend the bills.

  4. The Governor may veto legislation that he does not believe should become law.

The 2023 session saw a lot of progress on mental health. There were several legislative victories that your advocacy helped to bring about. There is also room for progress to be made next year. The following will examine some successful legislation as well as legislation that we should be mindful of in the future.

Two of the bills that we were successful in moving forward, pending the Governor’s actions, include:

Delegate Robinson’s HB2182 provides that the Behavioral Health Commission shall have the power and duty 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. This is meaningful legislation that will give peers a strong voice on matters that impact us.

Delegate Coyner’s and Senator Favola’s HB1525/SB846 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 legislation will help address the workforce crisis in mental health by expanding the pool of eligible PRSs and will offer individuals with lived experience an opportunity to give back to the recovery community.

An example of legislation that did not make it through the General Assembly, but we should be mindful of for next year, is:

Delegate Bell’s and Senator Mason’s HB2339/SB1174 which would have established a process where a defendant who is charged with certain misdemeanor violations and appears to have a mental illness, and such charged conduct appears to be associated with that mental illness, may be considered for transfer from criminal court to civil process for court-ordered mental health treatment without any adjudication on such misdemeanor charges. This bill was left in the Courts of Justice Committee.

As you can see, we had a very busy session and we are extremely grateful for your help throughout the process. Your voice is critical to the decision-making process and we ask that you stay involved throughout the year. Now is a good time to schedule meetings with your Members of the General Assembly to share your personal story and some of the concerns you face on a daily basis. Building relationships during the off-season is critical to having meaningful relationships during the session. Thank you again for all of your help and for your commitment to mental health in Virginia. To read and expanded version of this blog, please click here.

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