COLUMBUS—State Senator Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) announced the passage of legislation in the Ohio Senate today that would strengthen the ability of local Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services boards to address the needs of the communities they serve.

Sponsored by Senator Manning, Senate Bill 71 would permit county mental health boards to authorize their county directors to enter into contracts for routine administrative and treatment functions in amounts up to $25,000 before approval from the board is required. 

"Our mental health professionals need flexibility during crises in order to effectively deliver critical services and carry out their missions," said Senator Manning. "Lifting some of this administrative burden will allow our local boards to better serve the needs of their local communities."

Existing law has been interpreted to mean that a formal resolution of the board must be passed to approve every contract prior to the contract being signed by the executive director. The bill would put mental health boards in line with the duties and process of other political subdivisions and local government agencies. At the same time, the bill would maintain all appropriate limitations on the executive director’s fiscal power. 

"The current process has created administrative burdens, slowing down the efficiency of our Board and causing the Board of Directors to devote time to establishing or amending contracts related to office and operations instead of focusing on issues related to community behavioral health services," said Kathleen Kern, Associate Director of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health. 

Senate Bill 71 passed with unanimous support and will now go to the House of Representatives where it will be referred to a committee for further consideration. 
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