Gov. Hickenlooper Vetoes Bill on Mental Health Holds

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Original Article Published on the DenverPost.com

Gov. John Hickenlooper Thursday vetoed a bill that would have expanded the number of places a person can be placed during a mental health hold, and the length of time that place can be in a jail or emergency room while awaiting a bed in a facility.

The legislation, Senate Bill 169, had passed the legislature with broad, and bipartisan, support. In his veto letter, Hickenlooper called the bill “well-intentioned.”

“We agree that appropriate mental health facilities are not always readily available to treat persons having a mental health crisis. While well-intentioned, we are concerned that (the bill) does not provide adequate due process for individuals,” stated the veto letter signed by Hickenlooper.

One of the bill sponsors, Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp D-Arvada, said lawmakers were aware of the concerns.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be a veto,” Kraft-Tharp said. “But I’m not necessarily surprised.”

Kraft-Tharp said the bill incorporated due process because it would have required court approval to extend the time a person is held in a jail during emergencies such as when a transport to a facility with a bed is not possible quickly.

“No limit is placed for how long an emergency room may detain someone involuntarily while awaiting a free bed in a suitable treatment facility, and more importantly, no mechanism is made to afford due process to a person held involuntarily in “emergency” custody,” Hickenlooper’s letter states. “We have due process concerns for these individuals.”

 

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