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Missouri Legislative News
The 2013 Missouri legislative session (97th General Assembly, 1st Regular Session) adjourned Friday, May 17. We thought we’d give you a brief rundown of a few bills of interest to the CCHR community. Truly Agreed and Finally Passed (TAFP) legislation generally becomes law ninety days after the end of the session; the Governor has 45 days after adjournment to sign, not sign, or veto a TAFP bill. The bill becomes law if the Governor signs it or does not sign it within this time period. A veto causes the bill to be reconsidered in the House or Senate. The progress of the Governor’s actions on bills presented to him for signature is recorded here. If you have strong feelings about Governor Nixon approving or disapproving any particular bill, now is the time to contact him with your encouragement or concerns.
CCHR STL has gone to the State Capitol building each year early in the legislative session and put up an exhibit in the Capitol Rotunda. During this visit we brief legislators on our issues and distribute DVDs and other literature. This year in February we provided copies of the CCHR documentary DVD The Age of Fear – Psychiatry’s Reign of Terror to each legislator. Some legislators also receive this email newsletter. CCHR STL encourages you to participate with us early in the next legislative session so that more anti-psych bills are passed and more pro-psych bills are defeated.
Anti-psychiatric Bills Passed
SB 33 — Access to Public Accommodations and Use of Service Dogs for Mentally Disabled. This guarantees equal access to public accommodations for persons with mental disabilities and allows them to use service dogs on the same terms as other disabled such as the blind. This is perhaps not as much “anti-psych” as it is “pro-patient,” and will help individuals currently under the mental health establishment to gain more independence in life.
SB 229 — Mental Health Employment Disqualification Registry. This adds to the list of offenses that disqualify a person from working in a direct care role in a mental health facility, in the interests of patient protection. Such additional felony crimes include drug and stealing offenses, violations of aiding the escape of a prisoner and supporting terrorism as well as certain alcohol related offenses.
Pro-psychiatric Bills Killed
HB 69 – Limitations Of Liability For Inmate Suicides. This bill sought to set a standard of gross negligence for actions for damages brought against any public or private correctional or detention facility as a result of a death by suicide of any inmate, thus making it easier for incompetent or criminal psychs to avoid blame or penalty for their failure. A committee hearing was held but the bill was not advanced and died in committee.
HB 131 – Insurance Coverage For Eating Disorders. This bill sought to mandate insurance coverage for eating disorders, including psych treatment. A hearing was held but the bill was not advanced and died in committee. Also SB 160 – Same as HB 131; Senate version also had a hearing but was not advanced and died in committee.
HB 290 – Psychologists In Adoption Investigations. This bill would have authorized licensed professional counselors and psychologists to conduct adoption investigations, thus giving more power and funding to the psych industry. A hearing was held but the bill was not advanced and died in committee.
HB 337 – Licensed Counselors. This bill would have prohibited political subdivisions from discriminating between licensed professional counselors and other mental health professionals when promulgating regulations or recommending services, thus expanding the gravy train, so to speak. A hearing was held but the bill was not advanced and died in committee.
HB 344 – Behavior Assessment And Intervention. This bill would have required MO HealthNet (Medicaid) reimbursement for certain services based on the new behavior assessment and intervention codes under the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding system. It would have meant more money for psych behavioral treatment. This bill passed the House and was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate but did not advance and died in committee.
HB 347 – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This would have established a whole structure and reporting system for monitoring prescription drugs, in an attempt to defeat prescription drug abuse. It included provisions to refer abusers to psych drug treatment. A similar bill came close to passing last year, but with the current scandal about privacy violations of driver’s license and concealed carry permit records by another government agency, it seems the legislators were not in a mood to create yet another highly intrusive database, and the bill didn’t even get a hearing this year. Also SB 146 & SB 233 – Same as HB 347; The Senate version did get a hearing but was not advanced and died in committee.
HB 360 – Mental Health For Child Abuse Victims. This bill sought to prohibit denial of mental health care and treatment for children who are alleged victims of abuse and neglect and also to require guardians ad litem to have training in child abuse and neglect or in mental health. It died without even coming to a hearing.
HB 402 – Family Intervention Orders For Substance Abuse Treatment. This very intrusive legislation would have established “Family Intervention Orders” for treatment of persons who abuse chemical substances. A family member may file a petition with the court for a Family Intervention Order against another family member who has a substance abuse problem. This will result in a court ordered evaluation if the other family member is a substance abuser per the DSM, and if so, a recommendation for treatment will result. Although the treatment is not mandatory, the court can apply sanctions against the person such as reducing custody and visitation and can hold the person in contempt of court, so in effect, the person is forced into treatment. Social services personnel are required to ask if there might be a substance abuse element in various situations, and if so to inform the person that they can file for a Family Intervention Order. This bill passed through committee but never made it to the floor and died with the close of the session.
HB 565 – Professional Counseling And Diagnosis. This bill would have revised the definition of “professional counseling” for licensing purposes to grant licensed professional counselors the right to do diagnosis of mental disorders. This would have been a terrible advance of the medicalization of human distress and would have placed more innocent persons at risk, who merely sought some help from a counselor. The bill was passed by committee but did not proceed further and died with the close of the session.
HB 732 – Use Of Restraints. This bill would have allowed an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse to order use of restraints in psychiatric facilities, which can currently only be ordered by the head of the facility. The bill died in committee without a hearing. Also SB 178 – Same as HB 732; The Senate version passed through the Senate and was on the House calendar for 3rd reading but died with the close of the session.
HB 797 – Community Children’s Services Fund. This bill would expand allowable uses of this fund to include “preventative services designed to prevent substance abuse and mental abuse,” in other words, more psych funding. A hearing was held but the bill was not advanced and died in committee.
HB 801 – Drug Treatment Programs For Mo Healthnet. This bill would have required recipients of MO HealthNet (Medicaid) who have been convicted of a crime involving drug use to enroll in a drug treatment program in order to continue receiving Medicaid benefits, which would have forced more persons into psych treatment. It died in committee without receiving a hearing.
HB 816 – Drug Testing For Legislators. This bill would have required legislators to submit to drug testing within 60 days of the start of the legislative session and would have required them to complete a certified drug treatment program if they tested positive. The bill died in committee without a hearing.
HB 822 – Missouri Universal Health Assurance Program. This bill proposed a publicly financed, statewide health insurance program for all residents of the state, including mental health. The bill died without a hearing.
HB 929 – Standards For Mental Health Detention. This bill sought to expand the criteria for holding a person for mental health detention and evaluation. Under current law, this can only be done if the person is considered to be a danger to himself or others. The new law would have required the person to be held if they were mentally ill and “gravely disabled,” defined as “a result of mental illness or mental disorder, lacks judgment in the management of his or her resources and in the conduct of his or her social relations to the extent that his or her health or safety is significantly endangered and he or she lacks the capacity to understand that this is so.” Proponents of the bill said it would make it easier for parents to get their adult children committed at an earlier stage, before their “illness” had advanced to the point where they became an active danger to themselves or others. Obviously with such a loose definition, it could be used way beyond that. The bill was passed by its committee but died in the Rules committee. Also SB 226 – Same as HB 929; The Senate version passed through the Senate but did not progress in the House and died with the end of the session.
HCR 20 – Resolution Of Support For Mental Health Legislation. This non-binding resolution relating to gun safety would have expressed support for legislation that “increases the ability to identify and treat persons with mental and behavioral issues that threaten public safety.” It was referred to committee and died without a hearing.