Health Politics

UPDATE 4:27 p.m.: The state Senate voted on Wednesday to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s veto of “Tim’s Law.” The vote was 35-1, with Republican Sen. Wil Schroder of Wilder voting against.

The override now moves to the state House, which has until Thursday to consider it.

EARLIER:

Kentucky senators are considering overriding a veto by Gov. Matt Bevin of a bill – known as “Tim’s Law” — that would allow a court to order involuntary outpatient mental health treatment.

The bill is named after Tim Morton, a Lexington man who had a serious mental illness. He also had a neurological condition called anosognosia that left him unable to recognize he had an illness.

The bill would affect people specifically with that condition, and who had been involuntary committed to a hospital for treatment. Anosognosia commonly occurs among people with bipolor disorder and schizophrenia.

Bevin vetoed the bill Monday night, writing in his veto position statement that no one should be involuntarily ordered to treatment if they haven’t committed a crime or aren’t a danger to themselves or others.

The veto was a shock to mental health advocates — the bill passed the Senate with three dissenting votes and with no dissent in the House. Advocates gathered in the Capitol on Wednesday to ask lawmakers to override the governor’s veto.

Sheila Schuster is executive director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition.

“[Morton] died at 46 of self neglect and neglect by the system because the involuntary commitment didn’t keep him in treatment long enough that he could begin a road to recovery,” Schuster said. “We’re trying to avoid that revolving door by catching people before they’re a danger to themselves or others.”

The Senate needs 20 votes to override, and the House 51.

Republican Sen. Julie Raque Adams of Louisville is pushing for an override of the veto.

“It’s not as if we’re randomly selecting people who may or may not have a mental illness,” Adams said. “This is a very specified population that is spelled out.”

Legislators have until Thursday to override the veto.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.