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A Concerted Effort to Pass HB520 is Underway


Bill Must Pass in 2024 or It’s Back to the Drawing Board

If you have fol­lowed my Sub­stack for awhile, you know how close­ly I have report­ed on cer­tain inher­ent con­flicts-of-inter­est between Geor­gia House Rep Todd Jones, as founder of a com­pa­ny, Tal­itrix, LLC, and leg­is­la­tion he has spon­sored dur­ing the last two Geor­gia Gen­er­al Assem­blies, HB1013 and HB520. After a few mean­ing­ful mod­i­fi­ca­tions, HB1013 passed dur­ing the 2022 ses­sion. HB520, how­ev­er, present­ly sits stalled in a sen­ate sub­com­mit­tee ready to awak­en for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion once the speaker’s gav­el goes down in January. 

Because the 2023 bell­wether “men­tal health bill,” HB520, failed to pass the sen­ate, effec­tive­ly plac­ing the leg­is­la­tion in a state of sus­pend­ed ani­ma­tion, many have been won­der­ing, OK, what’s next? What are the pow­ers behind HB520 plan­ning to do to ener­gize the pos­si­bil­i­ties of it pass­ing dur­ing the upcom­ing Gen­er­al Assem­bly? What­ev­er that might be, it makes sense that they would start well before the Jan­u­ary Gen­er­al Assem­bly con­venes, hop­ing to gath­er momen­tum and gar­ner addi­tion­al sup­port before the major push begins in January. 

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After the 2023 Geor­gia Gen­er­al Assem­bly con­clud­ed, we didn’t wait long before wit­ness­ing a first push to gath­er sup­port for HB520 in 2024. As I wrote last April in a piece enti­tled, “No Panaceas in Behav­ioral Health-Lab Rats Liv­ing in a Cage of the mind,” the first shoe in the cam­paign to pass HB520 in 2024 dropped as the Geor­gia Depart­ment of Behav­ioral Health and Devel­op­men­tal Dis­abil­i­ties (DBHDD) part­nered with the CLINTON FOUNDATION (that should tell you some­thing) to con­duct a MOBILIZE RECOVERY ACROSS GEORGIA BUS TOUR. Dur­ing that tour of 43 towns and cities in Geor­gia, DBHDD spent your tax dol­lars, trolling across Geor­gia for vol­un­teers to par­tic­i­pate in men­tal health stud­ies and adver­tis­ing these ser­vices around the coun­try­side. That effort was staged to gath­er sup­port to pass HB520 dur­ing the upcom­ing Gen­er­al Assembly. 

And now a draft res­o­lu­tion has sur­faced, cir­cu­lat­ed by the Asso­ci­a­tion of Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­ers of Geor­gia, designed with “fill-in-the-blanks,” the res­o­lu­tion made avail­able to the respec­tive boards of com­mis­sion­ers of each of Georgia’s 159 coun­ties. Should the coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers feel oblig­ed to con­cur with the res­o­lu­tion, they would sim­ply fill in those blanks, for­ward­ing copies to their respec­tive coun­ty sen­ate and house del­e­ga­tions, urg­ing them to… 

“con­tin­ue efforts in the 2024 Ses­sion of the Geor­gia Gen­er­al Assem­bly to enhance Geor­gia cit­i­zens’ access to vital men­tal health ser­vices, includ­ing the pro­vi­sion of state bud­getary fund­ing for the addi­tion­al behav­ioral heath cri­sis cen­ters across the state, addi­tion­al co-respon­der units, and oth­er resources to assist those with men­tal health and sub­stance abuse disorders.”

Page on the ACCG web­site devot­ed to pass­ing HB520

In oth­er words, the res­o­lu­tion urges mem­bers of next year’s Geor­gia Gen­er­al Assem­bly to pass HB520, left dan­gling in the Sen­ate Health and Human Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee as time ran out in March. This res­o­lu­tion is an attempt to place pres­sure on each county’s state house and sen­ate del­e­ga­tions to pass HB520 dur­ing the 2024 Gen­er­al Assem­bly, before time runs out. 

The ACCG Men­tal Health Resolution

In the third para­graph, the line, “Chief Jus­tice Boggs’s work on jail diver­sion,” refers to a per­ceived need to autho­rize and fund of a method of track­ing indi­vid­u­als whose sen­tences are divert­ed out­side of jail facil­i­ties, in oth­er words, cre­at­ing an “out­side the wire” appli­ca­tion of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jones’ tracking/monitoring prod­uct, the Tal­itrix watch. For a full dis­cus­sion of the con­flicts-of-inter­est HB520 con­tains, I refer you to my Sub­stack from last Feb­ru­ary enti­tled, “Con­flicts of Inter­est, HB 520, Unnamed Men­tal Health Mon­i­tor­ing Act-How HB520 is Designed to Enrich its Sponsor.”

You can bet the pow­ers behind HB520 will con­tin­ue to wage war on the minds of Geor­gians to gain pas­sage of HB520 in 2024. Pres­sure will con­tin­ue to build until a final vote for pas­sage might take place. 

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