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Maney’s Mental Health Bill Passes The Florida Senate:

A four year project for local state representative Patt Maney is one signature away from becoming law.

The Florida Senate voted unanimously for HB 7021—Mental Health and Substance Abuse, signaling a significant stride in modernizing Florida’s mental health system. This victory comes on the heels of a unanimous vote earlier this week in the Florida House to pass it.

State Representative Patt Maney has fought for this bill every year of his four years in the State House. The legislative triumph marks the first overhaul of the Baker and Marchman Acts in 53 and 30 years, respectively.

With unanimous support at every stage, HB 7021 aims to revolutionize involuntary mental health treatment services, broaden the scope of licensed medical practitioners, and refine county court responsibilities. This collaborative effort seeks to reduce recidivism, enhance access to care, and streamline mental health service delivery, backed by a $50 million appropriation.

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Maney expressed his elation at the successful culmination of a four-year pursuit. “Persistence surely does pay off,” Maney remarked. “We need to shore up our Baker and Marchman Acts to reflect today’s needs. Especially post-pandemic, our mental health is too important to ignore. This comprehensive bill is a great stepping stone to even greater improvements to come.”

The bill’s highlights include:

  • Improving Public Safety and Individual Liberty: Focused on protecting public safety, individual liberty, and efficient taxpayer resource utilization.
  • Law Enforcement Discretion: Granting law enforcement the discretion to decide whether to initiate an involuntary mental health evaluation.
  • Expanded Practitioner Scope: Allowing physician assistants and APRNs to practice in psychiatric settings for physical healthcare within their scope of practice.
  • Revised Testimony Standards: Streamlining court processes by revising standards for testimony, including allowing testimony via telecommunications and providing new opportunities for family testimony.
  • Simplified Marchman Act Evaluation: Reducing the petition process from two to one for Marchman Act evaluations and treatment.
  • Enhanced Court Authority: Granting the court more authority to determine types of involuntary services ordered.
  • Transparent Data Collection: Requiring data collection and analysis to be posted on the Department of Children and Families’ website.
  • Harmonized Standards: Aligning processes, criteria, and standards under the Baker Act and Marchman Act.

Commonly referred to as the “Baker Act” and the “Marchman Act,” these legislative frameworks provide for short-term inpatient and outpatient involuntary and voluntary mental health and substance abuse assessments and treatments. 

The approval of HB 7021 marks a crucial step forward in addressing the evolving needs of Florida’s mental health landscape and ensuring the well-being of its residents facing mental health crises.

The bill will become law automatically if the governor does not sign it and does not veto it. Naturally, if the Governor does sign it, it will become law. 

 

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