Bill revisiting Baker Act, Marchman Act policies clears House committee

'Those changes were overdue.'

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee OK’d a bill Monday that would tweak the state’s Baker Act and Marksman Act.

Under the bill (HB 1277), police who order an involuntary examination must include emergency contact information in their report and reach out to the contact if someone is admitted — unless the person requests otherwise. The bill would also stiffen penalties against someone who gives false information while seeking an involuntary admission of someone else. Penalties under the bill include up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo is the bill sponsor. The committee advanced the bill unanimously with no questions and little debate.

“This process can be extremely stressful, even scary for the individual, their families, friends, guardians, even the providers and patients involved in the facilities,” said Massullo, a doctor.

The Baker Act allows medical professionals and law enforcement officers — among others — to commit a person with a mental illness to a treatment center if they show signs of violence or express suicidal ideations.

The Marchman Act, meanwhile, allows families to petition courts to order a mandatory assessment of a loved one who is abusing drugs and alcohol and may be a danger to themselves. Police and medical professionals may also conduct an emergency admission.

“This bill will streamline the process and help those people that are in crisis,” Massullo added.

The proposal also requires health professionals to document any patient communication restrictions. Those restrictions, the bill says, must be reviewed every three days rather than weekly.

“Those changes were overdue. … I’m pretty sure this bill would benefit so many people throughout the state of Florida,” said Hollywood Democratic Rep. Marie Woodson.

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1. It will appear next before the Health and Human Services Committee, marking its final committee stop.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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