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Health

Governor DeSantis Signs Florida’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill

todayJune 16, 2024 153

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On June 14, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law CS/CS/HB 7021 – Mental Health and Substance Abuse, a bill championed by State Representative Patt Maney to modernize Florida’s Baker and Marchman Acts for the first time since their original passage 53 and 31 years ago, respectively. This action will significantly improve the navigation, service delivery and expected outcomes of Florida’s mental health system.

Unanimously approved by both chambers of the Florida Legislature, Governor DeSantis’ signature solidifies the modernization of 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 in a collaborative effort to reduce recidivism, improve access to care, and increase the efficiency of mental health service delivery. This update to Florida law is supported by a $50 million appropriation.

“This is a monumental step for mental health care in the Sunshine State,” said State Representative Patt Maney – HD4. “Florida’s families are going to benefit. Our communities are going to benefit. The Governor’s approval of this law today puts all Floridians grappling with mental health and substance abuse issues on a positive trajectory. These improvements to address outdated deficiencies in our mental health care system are long overdue and I am thankful for the Governor’s signature to put them into action. The crusade continues and I look forward to continuing my work across the aisles to bring forth laws that make sense for some of our most vulnerable Floridians.”

Commonly known as the “Baker Act,” the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 allows for short-term inpatient involuntary and voluntary examination, inpatient involuntary and voluntary admission of an individual for assessment and treatment of mental illness, and involuntary outpatient treatment for mental illness. Commonly known as the “Marchman Act,” the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993 allows for the involuntary and voluntary assessment, stabilization and treatment of an individual allegedly abusing alcohol or drugs.

Highlights of the new law include:

  • Improving public safety, protecting individual liberty, improving treatment outcomes, and improving efficient use of taxpayer resources,
  • Allowing law enforcement discretion whether to initiate an involuntary mental health evaluation,
  • Allowing physician assistants and APRNs to practice in psychiatric settings for physical healthcare within their scope of practice,
  • Revising standards for testimony to ease the court’s receipt of additional information, such as allowing testimony via telecommunications and providing new opportunity for family testimony,
  • Requiring only one petition rather than the current two petition process for Marchman Act evaluations and treatment,
  • Allowing the court more authority to determine types of involuntary services ordered,
  • Requiring data collection and analysis to be posted to DCF’s website,
  • Aligning differing processes/criteria/standards under the Baker Act and Marchman Act.

Constituent inquiries can be directed to Ian.Thomson@myfloridahouse.gov or the Fort Walton Beach District Office (850) 226-5029.

Florida State Representative Patt Maney was first elected in 2020 to represent the residents of House District 4 in part of Okaloosa County. A retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and former Okaloosa County Judge, Representative Maney is a proven, conservative leader for both his country and community, driving commonsense solutions for Florida families in the Panhandle.

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