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Florida House unanimously passes bill to improve Mental Health System

The Florida House of Representatives has unanimously passed CS/CS/HB 7021 – Mental Health and Substance Abuse, a bill aimed at significantly modernizing Florida’s Baker and Marchman Acts. The bill, which received […]

Representative Patt Maney

The Florida House of Representatives has unanimously passed CS/CS/HB 7021 – Mental Health and Substance Abuse, a bill aimed at significantly modernizing Florida’s Baker and Marchman Acts.

  • The legislation, championed by State Representative Patt Maney and supported by House Speaker Paul Renner, is set to improve the navigation, service delivery, and expected outcomes of the state’s mental health system.

The bill, which received unanimous approval in each assigned committee stop and a 111-0 vote in the Florida House, would be the first major improvement to the Baker Act in 53 years and the Marchman Act in 30 years, according to Maney.

The proposed changes include modernizing standards for involuntary mental health treatment services, broadening the definition of licensed medical practitioners qualified to provide care, and refining the responsibilities of county courts.

“Persistence surely does pay off,” said State Representative Patt Maney – HD4. “After four years in office pursuing these improvements, I am delighted that my colleagues are just as determined as I to see this good legislation implemented.”

The bill aims to reduce recidivism, improve access to care, and increase the efficiency of mental health service delivery. It would be supported by a $50 million appropriation.

  • Key highlights of the bill include allowing law enforcement discretion in initiating involuntary mental health evaluations, permitting physician assistants and APRNs to practice in psychiatric settings within their scope of practice, and streamlining the petition process for Marchman Act evaluations and treatment.

The Senate companion bill, SB 1784, sponsored by State Senator Erin Grall, is expected to come before the Florida Senate for a vote before reaching the Governor’s desk for signature into law.

The Baker Act, officially known as the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, allows for short-term involuntary and voluntary examination, admission, and treatment of individuals with mental illness.

The Marchman Act, officially the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, allows for the involuntary and voluntary assessment, stabilization, and treatment of individuals allegedly abusing alcohol or drugs.

  • “We need to shore up our Baker and Marchman Acts to reflect today’s needs,” added Rep. Maney. “Florida’s families deserve the kinds of warm hand-offs in care and positive outcomes in stabilization and treatment when their loved ones are assessed for mental health needs. Especially post-pandemic, our mental health is too important to ignore.”

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