January 8, 2014
One senator had a new mission as the General Assembly reconvened Wednesday.
Senator Creigh Deeds returned to the General Assembly for the first time since his recent family tragedy.
Deeds was the first senator on the floor waiting for session to begin.
Two months after he was stabbed multiple times by his son who then turned a gun on himself, the lawmaker has introduced new legislation that targets mental health services in the state.
Not long after the incident, Deeds vowed to pursue a mental health agenda, saying he would focus on the state's services so that "other families don't have to go through what we are living."
His proposals would create a psychiatric bed registry and expand the time limit for emergency custody orders.
His recent family tragedy has renewed calls on both sides of the aisle to make sure the mental health care system in the state is working.
Delegate Rob Bell is one fan of taking a look at the current system.
"One of the biggest priorities this year will be mental health reform. And we are looking at what happens when someone is judged by a judge to be committed. In other words, they are a danger to themselves or someone else...how can we make sure we get them a bed. Obviously this was brought forward by the tragedy with Senator Deeds and we are trying to make sure nobody ever falls between the cracks again."
His longtime friend David Toscano believes that health care will be a major focus.
"We are like a family down here with a 140 members deeply concerned about what happened to Senator Deeds and I think it’s gotten our attention in terms of things we need to do to improve our system, some of those won’t cost money, others will."
Outgoing Governor Bob McDonnell proposed adding $38 million to improve how the state handles mental health crises.
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