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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.137

Introduced by Representatives Fisher of Lincoln, Donahue of Northfield, Fallar of Tinmouth, O’Donnell of Vernon, Koch of Barre Town, Nease of Johnson, Pugh of S. Burlington

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Mental health; department of mental health; commissioner of mental health

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to reestablish a department of mental health and a commissioner of mental health.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE RESTORATION OF A DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AND A COMMISSIONER OF MENTAL HEALTH

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

Sec. 1.  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. § 7400 is added to read:

§ 7400.  APPOINTMENT OF COMMISSIONER

The secretary of the agency of human services under section 3051 of Title 3 shall appoint as commissioner of the department of mental health a physician professionally qualified in psychiatry.  If, however, after diligent search a qualified psychiatrist cannot be found or the position cannot be filled because of the insufficiency of the remuneration offered, 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 field which includes specialization in mental health; and shall have substantial experience in administration, direction, or coordination of a comprehensive public or private mental health program.


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).



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us