Involuntary treatment bill coming down to the wire

Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, says if his committee can’t approve a bill streamlining the state’s involuntary treatment procedures by the end of next week, it won’t leave sufficient time for the Health and Welfare panel to work through it.

Sears’ committee spent Wednesday taking testimony and discussing a proposed amendment from Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham.

There are lingering questions about which patients would qualify for an expedited involuntary commitment process, whether applications for involuntary treatment and medication should be filed jointly and whether there should be a stay pending appeal.

The Judiciary Committee decided not to include a proposal that would prevent involuntary treatment cases that have not been adjudicated from being sent to the federal firearm background check database, which Vermont doesn’t currently report to anyway.

There is a separate bill that Sen. Alice Nitka, D-Windsor, said could result in lawmakers tacking on unrelated gun legislation to the involuntary treatment bill.

Legislative council will draft a new bill based on Wednesday’s testimony and committee discussion, which the committee will mark up and likely vote on next week.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee is responsible for ensuring the bill gives acute psychiatric patients access to appropriate and high quality care.

The committee took additional testimony from clinicians, attorneys and other stakeholders, probing the difficult issues and externalities that arise when disturbed patients refuse treatment.

Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, chair of Senate Health and Welfare, said she is confident her committee can finish its work on the bill with sufficient time to have a vote.

Senate Pro Tem John Campbell, D-Windsor, said he doesn’t plan to expedite the bill, but if it’s ready for introduction on the floor before town meeting week, he expects it will get a vote on the floor.

Morgan True

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  • steve merrill

    Well bust my britches, get the smelling salts for poor Dick Sears as he was “taken aback” by Ms. Schumaker’s “four letter” words not usually heard due to “senate decorum”!! My OH my!! Somebody needs to get their attention! Not only did they hear from, maybe, ONE person who was actually “forcibly medicated” but now they are trying to “add-on” GUN CONTROL legislation to this hair brained bill? Remember this is VERMONT, where gun control means being able to hit your target..We’re watching you guys and if using a mental “health” bill to slide through another “Pete-the-moose” type deal will surely backfire..This state has cops shooting “shovel-weilding” guys, ticketing people driving through yellow lights and swearing (despite video evidence) it was red, “missing” coke in Williston, tazing compliant motorists in Newport (not to mention the Roger Pion beatdown) and now you want to allow them to take our guns and demand “storage fees” while YOU guys in Montpelier ignore this?..Maybe we should administer Rohrschach Tests to the “geezer-slature” to see if THEY are “sane” and, while they’re at it, SEND them a nice big, fat BILL for the privilege like they did for the FIVE weeks of confinement for Ms. Schumaker too, SM, North Troy

    • Jonathan Smith

      From what I have read this bill would expediate judicial review of mental health cases – meaning people would not have to wait as long to see a judge and can get out of the hospital sooner.

  • Curtis Sinclair

    This bill would make it easier to commit someone against their will and then quickly force drug them.

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