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Legislative Update for 4/9/2024

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Many bills may die in the House and Senate this week because each chamber has to vote on bills from the other chamber by April 10, 2024, for those bills to stay alive and move ahead. Bills that survive the deadline will then return to the originating chamber in their current versions for legislators to vote on.

If the House and Senate disagree on the current versions of a bill, that bill will likely go to a conference committee. If so, Lt. Governor Hosemann will appoint three senators, and Speaker White will appoint three representatives to craft an acceptable bill for both sides. Rule 23A in the Joint Rules of the Senate and House states that conference committee meetings are open to the public.

Families as Allies is following these bills. One bill that is likely to go to conference is House Bill 1640. It is the only bill about mental health commitments that is still alive. We understand that legislators modeled this bill on Tennessee’s commitment process. We looked at Tennessee’s laws about civil commitments and think if legislators want HB 1640 to move forward, they could make these changes to it to align it with Tennessee’s processes and make it work better for people with mental illnesses and their families:

  • Make it clear that the mental health system, not families, ensures pre-commitment screenings happen. Designate who in the mental health system is responsible for what.
  • Shorten the time frame for screenings.
  • Add how mental health centers will support people who do not meet the criteria for commitment.
  • Mandate the Department of Mental Health to allow direct admissions to state hospitals for those individuals whose needs cannot be met in community crisis stabilization units.
  • Allow the court to use the screening as one of the evaluations if commitment is warranted.
  • Prohibit anyone from placing someone without criminal charges in jail at any point before, during or after the commitment process.

In this chart, we compare Tennessee’s current civil commitment laws about civil commitment with Mississippi’s proposed civil commitment laws. (Click the image below for the full PDF.)

Tennessee’s Current Law vs. Mississippi’s Proposed Law


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