VOCAL’s 2021 Legislative Priorities

The integration of peer services across Virginia’s healthcare service system, and particularly, throughout the mental health crisis emergency detainment process. Peer support services offer mutuality, acceptance, understanding, and validation not possible in other professional relationships. Incorporating the work of Certified Peer Recovery Specialists with the individuals being evaluated during all Emergency Custody Orders (ECO) and Temporary Detainment Orders (TDO) would significantly reduce instances of retraumatization caused by these legal proceedings.

Systemic criminal justice and racial equity reforms, conducted transparently and driven by Black and African-American Virginians, who have been most harmed by our shared history. Racism in America is a public health crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement is the beginning of a community and systems transformation that will benefit all Americans, Virginians, and VOCAL members. 

Continued funding and support for complete STEP-VA (Systems Transformation, Excellence, and Performance) implementation across the behavioral health system. This multi-year goal of Virginia Behavioral Healthcare transformation is only achievable through the continued funding and prioritization of the project’s outcome goals. 

The continued provision of reimbursable telehealth services, past the expiration of current emergency funds, and alongside statewide prioritization for broadband internet services in every Virginian household. As we move through the current health pandemic and into the future, technology will continue to serve a vital role in individual and community wellness. Unfortunately, the latest affordability data shows that just 51.3% of Virginians have access to an affordable internet plan, leaving over 600,000 Virginias without access to internet speeds higher than 25Mbps and another 300,000 Virginias without access to wired internet connections at all3

The budgetary prioritization for Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, including mental health and behavioral health treatment needs. Too many Virginians worry about balancing work and family responsibilities when illness strikes. Currently, 55% of working adults in Virginia are either not eligible for or can’t afford to take even unpaid leave4. Paid family and medical leave would ensure that hardworking Virginians can take more than a few days away from work to care for themselves or a loved one when serious illness strikes or to welcome a new child. 

In addition to the above stated legislative priorities, VOCAL will continue previous years’ work to advocate for the overall reduction of Barrier Crimes, as well as promoting person-centered care and civil rights protections during all policy discussions of Mandatory Outpatient Treatment orders.

VOCAL Bill Tracking Charts:

  • House Bills linked here
  • Senate Bills linked here

VOCAL staff host weekly Advocacy Committee Calls on Fridays at 12pm, during the General Assembly sessions. We encourage all interested VOCAL members and partner organizations to join us for these weekly updates.

Please use this link to access the zoom meetings: https://tinyurl.com/VOCALadvocacycalls

Advocacy Committee Call Meeting Minutes: 

  • December 04, 2020, minutes linked here.
  • December 18, 2020, minutes linked here.
  • January 08, 2021, minutes linked here.
  • January 15, 2021, minutes linked here.
  • January 22, 2021, minutes linked here.
  • January 29, 2021, minutes linked here.
  • February 05, 2021 minutes linked here.
  • February 18, 2021 update linked here.
  • February 26, 2021 minutes linked here.

Thank you to everyone for your participation in the 2021 Legislative Session Advocacy Committee calls!

Learn How a Bill Becomes a Law.

Read and/or watch Delegate Bagby’s remarks from the House Floor on February 01, 2021, regarding the start of Black History Month.

Read and/or watch Senator Locke’s remarks from the Senate Floor on February 01, 2021, regarding the start of Black History Month.