The Department of Social Services has compiled a short list of legislative priorities it will ask lawmakers to support during the 1989 Legislature.
Amanda Singer, legislative and policy coordinator for the department, said sponsors are being lined up and bills written in preparation for the upcoming session, which begins in January.In the area of Aging and Adult Services, the department wants lawmakers to clarify when or if the confidentiality of someone making a complaint can be breached and information released.
Recently, the attorney for a disabled adult who was the subject of a protective services referral asked for a complainant's name so they could pursue legal action against him. The division refused to release the information, against the advice of the attorney general's office, to protect the complainant.
The department wants amendments that would spell out under what circumstances, if any, the names of people making a complaint could be released.
The division also wants to establish an adult abuse registry so it can do background checks on employees of nursing homes, long-term care facilities and others who work with disabled adults.
Another amendment would give the department's policy boards authority to set licensing standards. Currently, the department's Licensing Committee and policy boards both have authority, but neither has the "final say," which could lead to conflict.
The Division of Mental Health wants to join the interstate compact, which outlines procedures for the transfer of mentally ill people across state lines. Utah operates under the compact's procedures but is not a member.
Mental Health also wants authority to certify security personnel at the state hospital as special security officers. In the past, guards have sometimes had to exceed their technical authority to protect clients and property. The amendment would protect the hospital, according to Social Services staff.
Other proposed bills would amend rules governing the Office of Recovery Services, which is responsible for child support collection; exempt the Utah State Training School from going through the state rulemaking process; and allow the Board of Substance Abuse to determine fund allocation to local substance abuse organizations.
Finally, the department is considering asking lawmakers to create a Utah Youth Authority and transfer jurisdiction to it from the juvenile court. "As financial resources diminish," says a department summary, "the Division of Youth Corrections needs the authority and flexibility to place youth in appropriate and cost-effective programs and have full treatment and supervision authority."