Bill to extend mental health study deadlines advanced
Senators gave first-round approval March 16 to a bill that would extend deadlines related to a study of the state’s mental health care capacity authorized by lawmakers last year.
LB552, sponsored by Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha, would extend the termination date for the Legislature’s Mental Health Care Capacity Strategic Planning Committee by one year, to Nov. 1, 2025. It also would extend the deadline for the committee to contract with an independent consultant to Nov. 1, 2023, and the reporting deadline for findings and recommendations to Nov. 1, 2024.
The committee was created by the passage of LB921 in 2022, Cavanaugh said, but was not able to hire a consultant by the deadline due to the bill moving through the legislative process more quickly than anticipated.
Cavanaugh said that individuals who are charged with a crime and deemed not competent to stand trial currently are housed in county jails if there is no room for them in facilities like the Lincoln Regional Center.
“This isn’t serving anyone, least of all public safety,” Cavanaugh said. “The review and recommendations of this committee are going to inform future policy decisions as it relates to mental health care in Nebraska, particularly as it relates to the criminal justice system.”
An Executive Board amendment, adopted 30-0, would require that the contract be awarded based on competitive bids and be subject to approval by the Executive Board.
Following adoption of the committee amendment, senators voted 28-0 to advance LB552 to select file.