Vermont Council of
Developmental and Mental Health Services
Legislative Update for May 7, 2013
All past Updates can be found under the Library tab
Legislature Speeds up to Meet May 11th Adjournment Goal – Revenues and Appropriations are Key
The goal of the Legislature is to complete work on May 11th. The fate of two bills, the finance and appropriations, generally determine when the work is done. With a recent announcement of $16 million in new revenues for fiscal year 2014 the process will become smoother. However, Stephanie Barrett of the Joint Fiscal Office has specified that these new revenues are of a one-time nature and do not translate into new revenues for fiscal year 2014. They can be used to replenish the reserves.
Until the finance bill is complete the appropriations conference committee will work around the edges, because they don’t know the size of the fiscal box they are filling. At this time they have agreed to use the Senate funding level of $75,000 general fund for the mental health housing vouchers. The Governor and House had recommended a funding level of $100,000 for this item.
The Council has asked the key Legislators to consider the following language during their negotiations.
(a) Revenue generated from the Medicaid rate increases in this Act shall be used by Designated Agencies and Specialized Service Agencies to provide a commensurate increase in compensation for direct care workers. Each Agency shall report to the Agency of Human Services how it has complied with this provision.
Sec. E.333 Disabilities, aging, and independent living – developmental services
(a) There is created a Developmental Services Work Group comprising the following eight ten members:
(1) four members of the General Assembly, who shall be the Chairs of the House Committees on Human Services and on Appropriations and of the Senate Committees on Health and Welfare and on appropriations or their designees;
(2) the Secretary of Human Services or designee;
(3) the Commissioner of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living or designee;
(4) two members appointed by the Vermont Council of Developmental and Mental Health Services;
(5) two members appointed by the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights . One shall be a person with a developmental disability who receives services and another shall be a family member of a person with a disability;
(b) The members of the Work Group shall be appointed as soon as is practicable following the effective date of this section. The Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations or designee shall call the first meeting of the Work Group, at which the Work Group shall elect a chair from among its members.
(c) For attendance at meetings during adjournment of the General Assembly, legislative members of the Work Group shall be entitled to compensation and reimbursement of expenses as provided in 2 V.S.A. § 406.Members of the Work Group who are not employees of the State of Vermont and who are not otherwise compensated by their employer or association for their participation in the Work Group shall be reimbursed at the per diem rate set forth in 32 V.S.A. § 1010.
(d) On or before September 1, 2013, the Work Group shall provide a report to the Joint Fiscal Committee, with copies to the House Committee on Human Services and the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, addressing all of the following:
(1) Identification of necessary changes to best practice systems, redesign initiatives that benefit individuals with developmental disabilities and their families and the amount of savings that might be obtained during fiscal year 2014.
(2) Recommendation of a method for future projections of the developmental services caseload.
(3) Recommendations regarding a strategic planning process for developmental services based on the values articulated in the Developmental Disabilities Act. The strategic planning process shall include:
(A) projecting the need for services into the future;
(B) evaluating the cost-effectiveness of current services;
(C) evaluating innovative models of care and determining how they could be implemented in Vermont;
(D) actively involving individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families in the strategic planning process.
(e) The Work Group shall receive technical assistance from the Joint Fiscal Office, the Office of Legislative Council, the Agency of Human Services, and other entities as needed.
(f) It is the expectation of the General Assembly that no modification to the system of care plan or rescissions can be applied before 60 days after September 1, 2013, or after the conclusion of the work of the Work Group if completed prior to September 1, 2013.
(g) Any necessary savings in the fiscal year 2014 budget that can’t be achieved through System of Care Plan changes will be reviewed during the budget adjustment process.
Detainee Initiative Lands as a Study in the Appropriations Bill
The Senate has proposed in the appropriations bill to study the issue of detainees via the Corrections Oversight Committee. It includes direction to look at alternatives to detention or incarceration for persons charged with nonviolent misdemeanors.
Mental Health Judicial Proceedings Still not Finalized
The House Human Services Committee is still working through S.128. It appears that changes in judicial procedures, including those related to involuntary treatment will be placed into a summer study committee. Direct access to the Secure Residential Facility by inmates in the correctional system will not be possible. Representative Donahue is interested in including language on the mental health ombudsman, but with the clock ticking, it’s not clear if this will be included in the legislation.
Capital Bill Funds New State Hospital and Secure Residential Facility
The Capital bill is nearly finalized and is scheduled to be considered by the Senate today. The legislation specifies funding for the new state hospital and names it, the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital. The Administration is directed to develop a plan for a secure residential facility for the Legislature to consider next session.
House Passes School Mental Health Study Legislation
The House Education Committee has added language to S.4 an act relating to concussions and school athletic activities that requires the Department of Education and the Agency of Human Services to conduct a summer study that:
(1) Catalogues the type and scope of mental health and substance abuse services provided in or in collaboration with Vermont public schools;
(2) Determines the number of students who are currently receiving mental health or substance abuse services through Vermont public schools and identifies the sources of payment for these services;
(3) Estimates the number of students enrolled in Vermont public schools who are not receiving the mental health or substance abuse services they need and, in particular, the number of students who were referred for services but are not receiving them, identifying whenever possible the barriers to the receipt of services;
(4) Identifies successful programs and practices related to providing mental health and substance abuse services in Vermont public schools and nationally, and determine which, if any, could be replicated in other areas of the State;
(5) Determines how the provision of health insurance in Vermont may affect the availability of mental health or substance abuse services to Vermont students;
(6) Details the costs and sources of funding for mental health and substance abuse services provided by or through Vermont public schools during the two most recent fiscal years for which data is available;
(7) Develops a proposal based on the information collected pursuant to this subsection to ensure that clinically-appropriate and sufficient school-based mental health and substance abuse services are available to students in Vermont public schools.
The Council requested that in B(4) the word in be changed to through and in B(7) the word in be changed to through in an effort to clarify the broader legislative intent to include independent schools serving students funded by public school systems. Unfortunately, while the Chair of the House Education Committee was seeking out the legislative counsel to make the changes the House passed the bill without the changes. If the bill ends up in a conference committee, it is possible that the correction could be made then. As an alternative, Representative Rachelson and Committee Chair Representative Donovan have promised to inform the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Human Services of their intent to have the independent schools included in every aspect of the study.
House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development Continues work on S.129
The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development decided to remove the Certified Contractor or Sole Contractor language which was raising concerns about unintended consequences for designated agencies. The Department of Labor will focus on providing information and education regarding independent contractor status. The bill proposes a study of how to best add an approval process for independent contractors who desire such approval. The Department study will also include a study of whether agencies and departments of state government are in compliance with worker's compensation and unemployment insurance coverage in their contracts with designated agencies and other subcontractors. Commissioner Noonan told the Committee that there was agreement that foster care is not employment and language specifying foster care as an exemption from the definition of a worker and employee is now in the bill. The exemption in the bill now reads: “An individual who receives foster care payments is excluded from the definition of gross income under Section 131 of Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code.”
Senate Expected to Pass H.403 Study of SFI community services
The Senate is currently considering passage of H.403 which calls for a study of individuals with severe functional impairments who are released from the correctional system into community-based services.
Public Inebriate Language Almost Set
Individuals who can’t be served by the public inebriate programs, either because their behavior can’t be managed or because there is not a bed locally available, will continue to be able to access overnight accommodations through the correctional system without charges thanks to the efforts of Representatives Emmons and Hooper. The language that extends the current sunset allowing this process is in S.99 an act relating to the standard measure of recidivism. This bill is on the House calendar for deliberation today.
Opioid Treatment Bill Back on Senate Schedule
H.522 the opioid treatment bill is back on the calendar for the Senate to vote on for Wednesday, May 9th. The fate of related legislation, H.65 a bill relating to limited immunity from liability for reporting a drug or alcohol overdose is still unclear.
This week’s schedule is in constant flux.
For more information or to take action:
• Legislative home page: http://www.leg.state.vt.us
• Sergeant-at-Arms Office: (802) 828-2228 or (800) 322-5616
• State House fax (to reach any member): (802) 828-2424
• State House mailing address (to reach any member):
115 State Street, Drawer 33
Montpelier, VT 05633-5501
• Email, home address and phone: Legislators' email addresses and home contacts may be found on the Legislature home page at http://www.leg.state.vt.us
• Governor Peter Shumlin (802) 828-3333 or http://governor.vermont.gov/
The purpose of the legislative update is to inform individuals who are interested in developmental, mental health and substance abuse services about legislative advocacy, policy development and activities that occur in the State Legislature. The Vermont Council is a non-profit trade association whose membership consists of 16 designated developmental and mental health agencies.
Vermont Council of Developmental and Mental Health Services
137 Elm Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
Office: 802 223-1773 Cell: 802 279-0464