Bill to allow voiding of psychiatric center closings held

A bill, S136,  that would permit the state to void the closing of a state psychiatric hospital or developmental center was held in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Thursday.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Anthony Bucco, (R-25), Denville, and Jeff Van Drew, (D-1), Cape May, would empower the commissioner of Health to hold up an impending closure if the decision would lead to the elimination of 100 or more full-time, non-vacant jobs unless there is an emergency involved.

Among other things, the bill would require the commissioner to hold at least one public hearing in the affected community.

Also held was S179,   which would set up a two-year “Mental Health Advocacy Pilot Program” to be administered by the Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Mental Health Services in the Department of Human Services.  The purpose of the program would be  to provide community-based treatment for mental illness as an alternative to incarceration in those cases in which such treatment will be more beneficial to the offender, as well as to the community.  The pilot program will be developed in Atlantic, Union and Essex counties.  Participation shall be limited to offenders over 18 years of age with severe mental illness who voluntarily participate in the program.  Bill to allow voiding of psychiatric center closings held