Gov. Bevin vetoes mental health bill; GOP lawmaker plans to rally caucus to override

03/28/2017 10:39 AM

UPDATED: Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, struck down legislation on Monday known as “Tim’s law” aimed at allowing a judge to order outpatient treatment for some with a history of psychiatric hospitalization.

Senate Bill 91 cleared the General Assembly with just three dissenting votes on the floor of the House and Senate, according to a vote history provided on the Legislative Research Commission website. However, Bevin argued the bill “would set a dangerous precedent” and would “threaten the liberty” of Kentuckians in his veto message.

In his message, Bevin argued that there already exists a mechanism in law to involuntarily commit mentally ill individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, said she was “disappointed” after being informed of the veto by Bevin on Monday, though she did not speak to him directly.

Adams has argued the merits of the bill to the Senate Republican leadership team where “the ball is in leaderships court.”

“At this point I don’t know if anyone is planning to or not planning to (override the veto),” she said.

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, said the bill is not an overreach of individual liberty, but rather the intent of the bill is to an additional tool to help those afflicted with mental disabilities that have already been in trouble twice before in the same calendar year.

“It gives the system, the judge particularly, another arrow in her quiver to address the problems of folks with mental disabilities, and try to help them one, stay out of trouble, and, two, help themselves and their affliction,” he said.

“If you’re institutionalized two times within a 12 month period the third time we can require you to do things that are not in the institution, like continue to take medicines,” Nemes continued. “You’d have to meet with people and go to different programs, and whatever is appropriate for your particular situation.”

Nemes said he hopes the House of Representatives overrides the veto when they return on Wednesday and Thursday for the final two days of the General Assembly.


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