by Deborah Yetter , @d_yetter –
FRANKFORT, Ky. – A bill designed to break the revolving cycle of hospitals, jails and homelessness won final passage in the House Tuesday on a unanimous vote of 95-0.
Senate Bill 91 marks the fifth year supporters have been trying to set such a measure passed. It would allow a judge to order outpatient treatment for up to a year for some people with severe mental illness.
The law would apply to people who have a condition that prevents them from recognizing the severity of their mental illness and do not comply with treatment or medication. The individual must have been committed involuntarily at least twice in the 12 months prior to a judge ordering outpatient treatment.
The bill, which now goes to Gov. Matt Bevin to be signed into law, is named after Tim Morton, a Lexington man with severe mental illness who was committed to psychiatric hospitals 37 times before he died.
SB 91, also known as “Tim’s Law,” says the provisions will be enacted contingent on funding. While the bill contains no money for mental health services or programs, supporters say having the law in place will allow Kentucky to apply for federal mental health funds.
Jason Nemes, a Louisville Republican who handled the bill on the House floor, urged passage of SB 91, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican.
Rep. Jim Wayne, a Louisville Democrat, said he supports SB 91 but said mental health in Kentucky has been chronically underfunded for years. Still, he said, “This bill is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Contact reporter Deborah Yetter at 502-582-4228 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.