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Delaware Governor Seeks Increase in Mental Health Services for Children

In his Jan. 17 state of the state address, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell unveiled several proposals aimed at increasing mental health services for children.
Markell’s proposals were based on recommendations from Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Vivian Rapposelli, secretary of the Department of Services to Children, Youth and their Families. The governor tasked the duo with studying ways to improve mental health services.
Markell touted the state’s ongoing efforts to combat youth suicides by mentioning their collaboration with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to offer training to high school faculties in detection and prevention of depression in teenagers. While Delaware’s high schools provide mental health services and some elementary schools have family crisis therapists, state middle schools severely lack mental health resources, according to Markell.  
“Only three of our state’s middle schools have full-time professionals responsible for the mental health needs of students at that critical age,” Markell said. “I propose a tenfold increase in the number of trained, front line mental health personnel in our middle schools.”
The proposal called for the placement of more behavioral health consultants in middle schools by September 2013, The News Journal of Dover reported.
Markell also proposed allowing Medicaid and CHIP programs to reimburse for consultations between pediatricians or family doctors and child psychiatrists.
Proposals for increased long distance technology-based mental health services were also on Markell’s agenda.
“Let’s also invest in long-distance mental health services provided through technology like Skype.
Telemedicine like this can help get kids services without waiting for weeks for appointments,” Markell said.
“Simple investments like these can make a real difference in a child’s life.”
 
SUPREME COURT
The Connecticut General Assembly in January confirmed the state’s first openly gay Supreme Court justice, The Connecticut Mirror reported. The Connecticut Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly confirmed Andrew J. McDonald, a former state senator. He is one of three justices appointed to the state Supreme Court over the past 40 years without previous lower court experience. Prior to his confirmation, McDonald served as Gov. Dan Malloy’s general counsel.  
 
REVENUE REVIEW
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan in January created the Consensus Revenue Estimating Panel via executive order. The panel will be tasked with developing and updating revenue estimates throughout and after the budget process. The governor’s budget director, Gerald Murphy, will lead the panel, which will be made up of both government and nongovernment officials.
 
GUN SAFETY
Maine Rep. Paul Davis introduced in January a bill that would require public schools to offer gun safety courses. Davis said the bill would give students the opportunity to learn how to properly and safely handle firearms.  At least three previous attempts to pass a similar requirement for gun safety courses in public high schools have been made, according to Sun Journal in Lewiston.
 
HEALTH ENTERPISE ZONES
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced in January five areas in the state designated as “health enterprise zones.” The zones are part of a $16 million project, created through 2012 legislation, to bring health care to the poor. Reducing health care costs, improving access to care, and reducing racial and ethnic health disparities are some of the program’s goals, The Baltimore Sun reported. The five zones will be West Baltimore, Annapolis, Capitol Heights, Greater Lexington Park and Dorchester-Caroline counties.
 
TAX INCREASES
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in January unveiled his proposed 2014 fiscal year budget containing $1.9 billion in tax increases. Under the proposal, income taxes would rise to 6.25, up 1 percent from the current rate. In addition, Patrick’s budget calls for the repeal of the sales tax exemption on candy and soda and an increase in the cigarette excise tax, according to a press release from Patrick’s office.

 

 
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