Disability Rights Legislation

SB 43 – Civil Commitment Law Expansions (2013-2014)

Link to Bill:

This bill changes the laws concerning the civil commitment of and treatment provided to mentally ill people by broadening the definition of “mentally ill person subject to court order.” The expanded definition includes people who satisfy all of the following conditions:

  • Unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment despite a risk of serious impairment or injury to self or others
  • Have demonstrated difficulty sticking to reasonable and appropriate prescribed treatment
  • The substantial likelihood that, if the person is not treated, the person’s current condition will further deteriorate to the level of posing a “substantial risk” of physical harm to themselves or others

It also increases the ability of courts to commit those they think meet these conditions to not just hospitalization but to out-patient treatment as well.

Primary Sponsors:
Secondary Sponsors:
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Civil Justice (S), Judiciary (H), Rules and Reference (H)
Companion Bill:
HB 104
LSC Legislation Status:
Jurisdiction/Legislation Level:
Our take on this bill:

SB 43 broadly expands the power to commit individuals to court-ordered mental health treatment beyond situations when an individual is a substantial risk to themselves or others, potentially opening the door to arbitrary civil commitment. While protecting public safety is important, perhaps the most serious impact on rights is when government authorizes the incarceration or detention of people. Accordingly, standards such as those included in SB 43 deserve the highest degree of scrutiny to ensure the right balance is struck.  We continue to monitor this legislation with those concerns in mind.

Bill Status:

Passed out of the Senate Civil Justice Committee on 2/19/14
Passed the Senate on 2/19/14

Passed of the House Rules and Reference Committee on 5/28/14

Passed the House on 6/3/14

Signed by the Governor on 9/17/14