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No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated. It is assumed that the Department of State Health Services could absorb the costs associated with implementation of the bill within existing resources.
No significant fiscal implication to units of local government is anticipated.
The bill would amend Chapter 532 of the Health and Safety Code to require the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to appoint a forensic director responsible for statewide coordination and oversight of forensic services. The bill would require that the forensic director to have proven expertise in forensic services.
The bill would also require DSHS to create a workgroup of experts and stakeholders to issue a report of recommendations concerning the creation of a comprehensive plan for coordination of forensic services. The report would be due to the Legislative Budget Board no later than July 1, 2016.
The purpose of the bill is to address the hospital capacity crisis in Texas’ mental health system. A forensic director would help ensure proper placement of patients committed to state mental health hospitals through criminal proceedings. The forensic director would also be able to help identify and address deficiencies in the provision of forensic services. The forensic director would also ensure that state resources are appropriately applied to the forensic population, that individuals do not have to wait extended periods for needed services, and that forensic operations are streamlined and best practices are adopted statewide.
This legislation would help to alleviate pressure on the state's hospital capacity crisis. We support SB 1507 because it utilizes existing department resources to address inefficiencies within the mental health system.