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ACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2007-2008

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NO. 15.  AN ACT RELATING TO THE RESTORATION OF A DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AND A COMMISSIONER OF MENTAL HEALTH.

(H.137)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS; PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds that there is a need for a separate department of mental health to improve the consideration of mental health issues, for direct access to mental health services, and for advocacy on mental health issues by the executive branch before the general assembly.

(b)  By this act, the general assembly intends that the department of health and the department of mental health continue the coordination and integration of their respective duties.

Sec. 1a.  3 V.S.A. § 212(1) is added to read:

(1)  The department of mental health

Sec. 2.  3 V.S.A. § 3002(a)(7) is added to read:

(7)  The department of mental health.

Sec. 3.  3 V.S.A. § 3051 is amended to read:

§ 3051.  COMMISSIONERS; DEPUTY COMMISSIONERS;

  APPOINTMENT; TERM

(a)  The secretary, with the approval of the governor, shall appoint a commissioner of each department, who shall be the chief executive and administrative officer and shall serve at the pleasure of the secretary.

(b)  For the department of health, the secretary, with the approval of the governor, shall appoint deputy commissioners for the following divisions of the department:

(1)  mental health;

(2)  public health;

(3)(2)  substance abuse.

(c)  For the department for children and families, the secretary, with the approval of the governor, shall appoint deputy commissioners for the following divisions of the department:

(1)  field operations;

(2)  economic services;

(3)  child development;

(4)  family services.

(d)  For the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living, the secretary, with the approval of the governor, shall appoint two deputy commissioners for the following divisions of the department:

(1)  operations;

(2)  disabilities and aging services.

(e)  Deputy commissioners shall be exempt from the classified service. Their appointments shall be in writing and shall be filed in the office of the secretary of state.

Sec. 4.  3 V.S.A. § 3082 is amended to read:

§ 3082.  DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

The department of health is created within the agency of human services as the successor to and the continuation of the department of health and the division of mental health services of the department of developmental and mental health services. The department of health shall be responsible for the operation of the Vermont state hospital.

Sec. 5.  3 V.S.A. § 3089 is added to read:

§ 3089.  DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH

The department of mental health is created within the agency of human services as the successor to and the continuation of the division of mental health services of the department of health.  The department of mental health shall be responsible for the operation of the Vermont state hospital.

Sec. 6.  3 V.S.A. § 3091(a) is amended to read:

(a)  An applicant for or a recipient of assistance, benefits, or social services from the department for children and families, the office of Vermont health access, and the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living, the division department of mental health of the department of health, 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.

Sec. 7.  14 V.S.A. § 3067(a) is amended to read:

(a)  When a petition is filed pursuant to section 3063 of this title, the court shall order an evaluation of the respondent.  Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the cost of the evaluation shall be paid for out of the respondent’s estate.  If the respondent is unable to afford some or all of the cost of the evaluation without expending income or liquid resources necessary for living expenses, the court shall order that the department of mental health or the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living provide the evaluation through community mental health agencies affiliated with the departments.

Sec. 8.  18 V.S.A. § 1 is amended to read:

§ 1.  GENERAL POWERS OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

As herein or elsewhere specified, the department of health shall have power to supervise and direct the execution of all laws relating to public health, mental health, and substance abuse.


Sec. 9.  18 V.S.A. § 7101(2) is amended to read:

(2)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner of mental health.

Sec. 10.  18 V.S.A. § 7113 is amended to read:

§ 7113.  INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION:  PAYMENT

Whenever a court orders an independent examination by a mental health professional or a qualified mental retardation professional pursuant to this title or 13 V.S.A. § 4822, the cost of the examination shall be paid by the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living or of health.  The mental health professional or qualified mental retardation professional may be selected by the court but the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living or the commissioner of mental health may adopt a reasonable fee schedule for examination, reports, and testimony.

Sec. 11.  Chapter 173 of Title 18 is amended to read:

CHAPTER 173.  THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, DIVISION OF MENTAL HEALTH

§ 7201.  MENTAL HEALTH

The department of mental health, as the successor to the division of mental health services of the former department of developmental and mental health services department of health, shall centralize and more efficiently establish the general policy and execute the programs and services of the state concerning mental health, and to integrate and coordinate those programs and services with the programs and services of other departments of the state, its political subdivisions, and private agencies, so as to provide a flexible comprehensive service to all citizens of the state in mental health and related problems.

§ 7202.  COORDINATION

The department of mental health shall be responsible for coordinating efforts of all agencies and services, government and private, on a statewide basis in order to promote and improve the mental health of individuals through outreach, education, and other activities.  The department of disabilities, aging, and independent living shall be responsible for coordinating the efforts of all agencies and services, government and private, on a statewide basis in order to promote and improve the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities.

* * *

§ 7205.  SUPERVISION OF INSTITUTIONS

The department of mental health shall operate the Vermont State Hospital and shall be responsible for patients receiving involuntary treatment at a hospital designated by the department of mental health.

Sec. 12.  Chapter 177 of Title 18 is amended to read:

CHAPTER 177.  THE COMMISSIONER OF MENTAL HEALTH

* * *


Sec. 13.  18 V.S.A. § 7207 is added to read:

§ 7207.  COMMISSIONER OF MENTAL HEALTH; APPOINTMENT; QUALIFICATIONS

The secretary shall appoint a commissioner of mental health, as provided in 3 V.S.A. § 3051, who shall be a mental health care professional who has had educational and practical experience in the field of mental health.

Sec. 13a.  18 V.S.A. § 7401 is amended to read:

§ 7401.  Powers and duties

Except insofar as this part of this title specifically confers certain powers, duties, and functions upon others, the commissioner shall be charged with its administration.  The commissioner may:

* * *

(17)  ensure the provision of services to children and adolescents with a severe emotional disturbance in coordination with the commissioners commissioner of education and social and rehabilitation services the commissioner for children and families in accordance with the provisions of chapter 43 of Title 33;

(18)  ensure the development of community‑based prevention and early intervention services for children and adults and ensure the coordination of these services throughout all parts of the public and private health care delivery system;

(19)  ensure the development of chronic care services, addressing mental health and substance abuse, for children and adults and ensure the coordination of these services with other chronic care initiatives, including the Blueprint for Health, and the care coordination and case management programs of the office of Vermont health access;

(20)  ensure the coordination of mental health, physical health, and substance abuse services provided by the public and private health care delivery systems;

(21)  ensure the coordination of public mental health and substance abuse services with mental health and substance abuse services offered through the private health care delivery system, including services offered by primary care physicians.

Sec. 14.  18 V.S.A. § 7511(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The commissioner of the department of health shall ensure that all reasonable and appropriate measures consistent with public safety are made to transport or escort a person subject to this chapter to and from any inpatient setting, including escorts within a designated hospital or the Vermont state hospital, or otherwise being transported under the jurisdiction of the commissioner in any manner which:

* * *


Sec. 15.  18 V.S.A. § 8907(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the commissioner of mental health and the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living shall, within the limits of funds designated by the legislature for this purpose, ensure that community services to mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons throughout the state are provided through designated community mental health agencies.  The commissioners shall designate public or private nonprofit agencies to provide or arrange for the provision of these services.

Sec. 16.  18 V.S.A. § 8909(c)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  “Commissioner” means either the commissioner of the department of mental health or the commissioner of the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living, or both, depending on the circumstances and subject matter of the issue or issues being addressed.

Sec. 17.  18 V.S.A. § 9051 is amended to read:

§ 9051.  ADMINISTRATOR

The commissioner of mental health is hereby designated the compact administrator.  The commissioner shall administer the compact set out as subchapter 1 of this chapter with the power and duties therein specified and shall have authority to incur, on behalf of the state, financial obligations necessary for the proper performance of his or her duties under the compact.  If any supplementary agreement made under the compact requires or contemplates the use of any institution or facility of the state or other service of the state, the agreement shall not take effect until its relevant provisions are approved by the general assembly.  The compact administrator shall cooperate with other officers, departments and agencies of the state which are affected by the compact administrator’s actions in the performance of his or her duties.

Sec. 18.  18 V.S.A. § 9435(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Excluded from this subchapter are community mental health or developmental disability center health care projects proposed by a designated agency and supervised by the commissioner of mental health or the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living, or both, depending on the circumstances and subject matter of the project, provided the appropriate commissioner or commissioners makes a written approval of the proposed health care project.  The designated agency shall submit a copy of the approval with a letter of intent to the commissioner.

Sec. 19.  24 V.S.A. § 296 is amended to read:

§ 296.  TRANSPORTATION OF PRISONERS AND MENTAL PATIENTS

All commitments to a state correctional facility or state mental institution or to any other place named by the commissioner of corrections, commissioner of developmental and mental health services mental health or committing court, shall be made by any sheriff, deputy sheriff, state police officer, police officer, or constable in the state, or the commissioner of corrections or his or her authorized agent.

Sec. 20.  26 V.S.A. § 1317(a) is amended to read:

§ 1317.  UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT TO BE REPORTED TO BOARD

(a)  Any hospital, clinic, community mental health center or other health care institution in which a licensee performs professional services shall report to the commissioner of mental health, along with supporting information and evidence, any disciplinary action taken by it or its staff which significantly limits the licensee’s privilege to practice or leads to suspension or expulsion from the institution.  The report shall be made within 10 days of the date such disciplinary action was taken, and, in the case of a licensee who is employed by, or under contract with, a community mental health center, a copy of the report shall also be sent to the commissioner of developmental and mental health services.  This section shall not apply to cases of resignation or separation from service for reasons unrelated to disciplinary action.

Sec. 21.  32 V.S.A. § 308b(a) is amended to read:

§ 308b.  HUMAN SERVICES CASELOAD RESERVE

(a)  There is created within the general fund a human services caseload management reserve.  Expenditures from the reserve shall be subject to an appropriation by the general assembly or approval by the emergency board.  Expenditures from the reserve shall be limited to agency of human services caseload related needs primarily in the departments for children and families, of health, of mental health, and of disabilities, aging, and independent living, and in the office of Vermont health access.

Sec. 22.  STATUTORY REVISION

(a)  The words “commissioner of health,” “commissioner of the department of health,” and “department of health” shall be amended to read “commissioner of mental health,” and “department of mental health,” as appropriate, wherever such words appear in Part 8 of Title 18 (mental health) and or chapter 157 of Title 13 (insanity as a defense).

(b)  The words “commissioner of developmental and mental health services” and “department of developmental and mental health services” shall be amended to read “commissioner of mental health” and “department of mental health,” as appropriate, wherever such words appear in Title 28 (corrections).

Sec. 23.  REPORT

On or before January 15, 2008, and on January 15 of every even-numbered year thereafter, the secretary of human services, the commissioner of health, and the commissioner of mental health shall jointly report to the general assembly.  The report shall describe the relationship between the commissioner of health and commissioner of mental health and shall evaluate how effectively they and their respective departments cooperate and how effectively the departments have complied with the intent of this act.  The report shall address prevention, early intervention, and chronic care health services for children and adults, coordination of mental health, substance abuse, and physical health services, and coordination with all parts of the health care delivery system, public and private, including the office of Vermont health access, the office of alcohol and drug abuse, and primary care physicians.

Approved:  May 3, 2007



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us