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Substitute Senate Bill No. 470

Public Act No. 04-211

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL RETARDATION GUARDIANSHIP ASSESSMENT AND REVIEW PROCESS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL RETARDATION OMBUDSMAN.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 45a-674 of the general statutes, as amended by section 4 of public act 03-51, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2004):

At any hearing for appointment of a plenary guardian or limited guardian of the person with mental retardation, the court shall receive evidence as to the condition of the respondent, including a written report or testimony by a Department of Mental Retardation assessment team appointed by the Commissioner of Mental Retardation or his designee, no member of which is related by blood, marriage or adoption to either the applicant or the respondent and each member of which has personally observed or examined the respondent within forty-five days next preceding such hearing. The assessment team shall be comprised of at least [three] two representatives from among appropriate disciplines having expertise in the evaluation of persons alleged to be mentally retarded. The assessment team members shall make their report on a form provided for that purpose by the Office of the Probate Court Administrator and shall answer questions on such form as fully and completely as possible. The report shall contain specific information regarding the severity of the mental retardation of the respondent and those specific areas, if any, in which he needs the supervision and protection of a guardian, and shall state upon the form the reasons for such opinions. The applicant, respondent or his counsel shall have the right to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses who testify at any hearing on the application. If such respondent or his counsel notifies the court not less than three days before the hearing that he wishes to cross-examine the witnesses, the court shall order such witnesses to appear. The fees for such assessment team shall be paid from funds appropriated to the Department of Mental Retardation.

Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 45a-681 of the general statutes, as amended by section 10 of public act 03-51, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2004):

(a) The court shall review each guardianship of the person with mental retardation or limited guardianship of the person with mental retardation at least every three years and shall either continue, modify or terminate the order for guardianship. (1) The court shall receive and review written evidence as to the condition of the ward. [The] Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the guardian, the attorney for the ward and a Department of Mental Retardation professional or, if requested by the ward or by the court, an assessment team appointed by the Commissioner of Mental Retardation or his designee shall each submit a written report to the court [within] not later than forty-five days [of] after the court's request for such report. (2) In the case of a ward who is functioning adaptively and intellectually within the severe or profound range of mental retardation, as determined by the Department of Mental Retardation, the court shall receive and review written reports as to the condition of the ward only from the guardian and the attorney for the ward, provided the court may require a Department of Mental Retardation professional or assessment team to submit a written report as to the condition of such ward. Each written report shall be submitted to the court not later than forty-five days after the court's request for such report. (3) If the ward is unable to request or obtain an attorney, the court shall appoint an attorney for the ward. If the ward is unable to pay for the services of the attorney, the reasonable compensation of such attorney shall be established by, and paid from funds appropriated to, the Judicial Department; however, if funds have not been included in the budget of the Judicial Department for such purposes, such compensation shall be established by the Probate Court Administrator and paid from the Probate Court Administration Fund. The Department of Mental Retardation professional or assessment team shall personally observe or examine the ward within the forty-five-day period preceding the date of submission of its report.

Sec. 3. Section 17a-210a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2004):

(a) [The Commissioner of Mental Retardation shall establish] There is established an independent [ombudsperson] ombudsman office within the Department of Mental Retardation that is responsible for receiving and making recommendations to the commissioner for resolving complaints affecting consumers under the care or supervision of the department or of any public or private agency with which the department has contracted for the provision of services.

(b) The director of the ombudsman office shall be appointed by the Governor, with the approval of the General Assembly. Said director shall be an elector of the state with expertise and experience in the fields of mental retardation and advocacy for the rights of the consumers specified in subsection (a) of this section and shall be exempt from the classified service.

(c) Upon the vacancy of the director of the ombudsman office by the person serving in such position on July 1, 2004, and whenever thereafter the term of such position expires or there is a vacancy in such position, the Governor shall appoint the director of the ombudsman office from a list of candidates prepared and submitted to the Governor by the Council on Mental Retardation, established by section 17a-270. The Governor shall notify the council of the pending expiration of the term of an incumbent ombudsman not less than ninety days prior to the final day of the ombudsman's term in office. If a vacancy occurs in the position of ombudsman, the Governor shall notify the council immediately of the vacancy. The council shall meet to consider qualified candidates for the position of ombudsman and shall submit a list of not more than five candidates to the Governor ranked in order of preference, not more than sixty days after receiving notice from the Governor of the pending expiration of the ombudsman's term or the occurrence of a vacancy. The Governor shall designate, not more than sixty days after receipt of the list of candidates from the council, one candidate from the list for the position of ombudsman. If, after the list is submitted to the Governor by the council, any candidate withdraws from consideration, the Governor shall designate a candidate from those remaining on the list. If the Governor fails to designate a candidate within sixty days of receipt of the list from the council, the council shall refer the candidate with the highest ranking on the list to the General Assembly for confirmation. If the General Assembly is not in session at the time of the Governor's or council's designation of a candidate, the candidate shall serve as the acting ombudsman until the General Assembly meets and confirms the candidate as ombudsman. A candidate serving as acting ombudsman shall be entitled to compensation and have all the powers, duties and privileges of the ombudsman. An ombudsman shall serve a term of four years, not including any time served as acting ombudsman, and may be reappointed by the Governor or shall remain in the position until a successor is confirmed. Although an incumbent ombudsman may be reappointed, the Governor shall also consider additional candidates from a list submitted by the council as provided in this section.

[(b)] (d) The director of the [ombudsperson] ombudsman office shall report monthly to the Council on Mental Retardation [established by section 17a-270 and by December 15, 1999,] and, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, annually [thereafter,] to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to public health.

Approved June 3, 2004