AN ACT RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 18 V.S.A. § 7303 is amended to read:
§ 7303. APPOINTMENT OF COMMISSIONER
The secretary of the agency of human services under section 3051 of Title 3 shall appoint, in consultation with the chairs of the three state program standing committees, as commissioner of the department of developmental and mental health services a *[
physician professionally qualified in psychiatry. However, if a qualified psychiatrist cannot be found, after diligent search, or the position cannot be filled because of the insufficiency of the remuneration offered, with the advice of the board of mental health the position may be filled by a qualified]* person with a graduate degree from an accredited institution *[ in medicine, psychology, social work, nursing, or public administration, or in a related]* in a relevant field which *[ includes]* may include specialization in mental health, or in *[ mental health and mental retardation]* developmental disabilities and shall have substantial experience in administration, direction or coordination of a comprehensive public or private developmental *[ and]* or mental health program.
Sec. 2. 18 V.S.A. § 7315 is added to read:
§ 7315. STATE PROGRAM STANDING COMMITTEES
(a) Three separate state program standing committees are created to advise the department on the status and needs of:
(1) People with developmental disabilities.
(2) Adults with mental illness or other significant mental health issues.
(3) Children and adolescents with severe emotional disturbance or other significant mental health issues, and their families.
(b) The committees shall also advise the commissioner regarding the performance of the service systems; recommend legislation, rules, policies and standards to implement the system of care plans; participate in the agency designation and redesignation process; and perform other responsibilities assigned to them by the department, by rule.
(c) Each of the committees shall consist of nine to 15 members appointed by the governor, and shall be comprised of a majority of consumers and family members. All committee members shall disclose their affiliation and the group they represent.
(d) Members of each committee shall be appointed for staggered terms of three years, but for no longer than nine consecutive years, and shall serve until a successor is appointed.
(e) Each committee shall elect a chair or co-chairs from among its members. The committee shall meet at least quarterly at the time and place determined by the chair, and at such other times and places as the chair may determine to be necessary. The committee shall institute, by a majority vote, guidelines for orderly operation of the committee, including the election and terms of office for the chair, and any specific requirements for committee membership.
(f) Members of the committee shall be entitled to a per diem payment for participation in committee activities and reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties under this chapter, in accordance with section 1010 of Title 32, provided those expenses are not covered by the member’s employer or support provider.
Sec. 3. 18 V.S.A. § 8733 is amended to read:
§ 8733. *[
ADVISORY BOARD]* STATE PROGRAM STANDING
(a) An advisory board]* A developmental services state program standing committee is created to advise the department on the status and needs of people with developmental disabilities and their families, pursuant to section 7315 of this title. *[
The board shall also advise the commissioner regarding the development of the system of care plan described in section 8725 of this title and recommend legislation, rules, policies and standards to implement the system of care plan.
(b) The board shall consist of 15 members appointed by the governor: five persons shall be recipients, five members shall be advocates that represent people with developmental disabilities, and five members shall be professionals with expertise in the area of developmental disabilities.
(c) Members of the board shall be appointed for staggered terms of three years, beginning April 1 and shall serve until a successor is appointed.
(d) The board shall elect a chair, from among its members. The board shall meet at least annually at the time and place determined by the chair, and at such other times and places as the chair may determine to be necessary.
(e) Members shall be entitled to reimbursement for necessary and actual expenses incurred in performance of their duties under this chapter.]*
Sec. 4. 3 V.S.A. § 3091(a) is amended to read:
(a)(1) An applicant for or a recipient of assistance, benefits or social services from the department of social and rehabilitation services, the department of prevention, assistance, transition, and health access, the office of economic opportunity, the department of aging and disabilities, the office of child support, or an applicant for a license from one of those departments or offices, or a licensee, may file a request for a fair hearing with the human services board. An opportunity for a fair hearing will be granted to any individual requesting a hearing because his or her claim for assistance, benefits or services is denied, or is not acted upon with reasonable promptness; or because the individual is aggrieved by any other agency action affecting his or her receipt of assistance, benefits or services, or license or license application; or because the individual is aggrieved by agency policy as it affects his or her situation.
(2) An applicant for or a recipient of assistance, benefits or services from the department of developmental and mental health services or an agency or program funded by that department, may appeal to the human services board a decision of that department or an agency or program funded by that department, to deny or terminate eligibility for services, to deny, terminate, suspend or reduce services, or when a request is not acted upon with reasonable promptness.
(3) Where the appellant is a person with a developmental disability or the person’s guardian, the fair hearing shall be conducted pursuant to 18 V.S.A. § 8727. All other fair hearings shall be conducted pursuant to this section.
Sec. 4a. REPORT REQUIRED
The commissioner of developmental and mental health services shall report to the general assembly on or before January 15, 2002 on the activities of the standing committees created by 18 V.S.A. § 7315, and their capacity and experience in fulfilling their statutory powers and duties.
Sec. 5. REPEAL
(a) 18 V.S.A. §§ 7301 (creation of the state board of mental health), 7302 (subcommittee on institutions), 7304 (persons not hospitalized), 7305 (powers of board), 7309 (referrals from governor), 7310 (petition for injury), 7312 (penalty; failure to obey summons), 7313 (board shall visit institution), and 7314 (reciprocal agreements) are repealed.
(b) 18 V.S.A. § 7311 (investigation) is repealed. A written Vermont State Hospital grievance policy shall be instituted on or before July 1, 2001.