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WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of its residents with mental retardation;
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth recognizes the value inherent in receiving ideas and maintaining communication with family members, advocates, public officials, and members of the public interested in enhancing the well-being of people with mental retardation;
WHEREAS, it is important that people with mental retardation, their families and the public be provided with a forum to discuss issues affecting individuals served by the Department of Mental Retardation pursuant to its statutory authority;
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth's network of individualized services designed to address the wide variety of needs of people with mental retardation must be continually evaluated to ensure its quality and effectiveness;
WHEREAS, the Governor's Commission on Mental Retardation, initially established by Executive Order 356, amended by Executive Order 371, reestablished by Executive Order 396, reestablished by Executive Order 429, amended by Executive Order 448, and reestablished by Executive Order 459, continues to be an important part of the Commonwealth's efforts to enhance the well-being of people with mental retardation; and
WHEREAS, there is an ongoing role for the Commission to ensure that people with mental retardation are provided with quality services and to protect the rights of people with mental retardation;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § 1, Art. 1, do hereby revoke Executive Order 459 and reestablish the Governor's Commission on Mental Retardation, as follows:
ARTICLE I. Purpose and Scope of the Commission
1.1 The Commission shall:
(a) provide advice and counsel to the Secretary with respect to the Commonwealth's services designed to address the needs of people with mental retardation;
(b) working in collaboration with the Department of Mental Retardation, provide a forum to review public policy as it affects persons with mental retardation; and
(c) work cooperatively with the Department of Mental Retardation in connection with its mission to support people with mental retardation, and to support the Department to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the Department's programs.
ARTICLE II. Membership and Structure of the Commission
2.1 The Commission shall consist of no fewer than eleven (11) and no more than thirteen (13) members appointed by the Governor. Members will be appointed to staggered terms of three (3) years. The Governor shall appoint four members for a term of three (3) years; four members for a term of two (2) years; and the remaining members for a term of one (1) year.
2.2 The Governor shall appoint a Chair of the Commission from among its members. The Chair shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
2.3 Members shall be persons with demonstrated interest, experience and expertise in mental retardation. No employee of the Department of Mental Retardation may be a member of the Commission except that the Commissioner or her designee shall sit upon the Commission as a non-voting member. Members shall be special state employees subject to Chapter 268A of the Massachusetts General Laws.
2.4 Members shall serve without compensation, but may receive reimbursement for necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in fulfilling their duties, subject to appropriation or allocation.
2.5 Members shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Members shall continue in their positions until such time as they are re-appointed or until a successor member is appointed.
2.6 There shall be an Administrator of the Commission who shall be selected by the Governor. The Administrator shall be an employee of the Commonwealth. The Administrator shall have knowledge of the mental retardation service system and agencies delivering such services and have experience in administration and quality assurance.
Article III. Powers and Duties of the Commission Generally
3.1 The Commission shall adopt internal procedures appropriate for the effective performance of its duties.
3.2 The Commission may, in conjunction with the Department of Mental Retardation, hold public hearings or educational forums. The results of such hearings shall be reported to the Governor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Commissioner of Mental Retardation.
3.3 The Commission may request such information from or access to the Department, subject to law and as practicable, as is necessary to perform its duties.
3.4 The Commission may make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services as to how the quality of life of individuals with mental retardation may be improved by legislation or regulations.
3.5 The Commission and/or the Administrator may issue reports on matters concerning the health, safety and well-being of persons with mental retardation.
ARTICLE IV. Commission's Powers to Serve as Ombudsman
4.1 (a) The Administrator, acting on behalf of the Commission, may respond to concerns regarding the provision of services to persons with mental retardation. In every case, the Administrator shall ensure that the Department of Mental Retardation and its Commissioner have had a full opportunity to resolve the matter before it is presented to the Commission. The Administrator shall first gather and review relevant facts, and shall attempt to resolve the matter by working with Department staff. If the matter is not resolved, the Administrator shall make a written recommendation to the Commissioner of the Department.
(b) The Commission shall not consider matters that should be addressed pursuant to: (i) statute or regulations concerning Individual or Family Support Plans; (ii) regulations requiring complaint investigation by the Department of Mental Retardation; (iii) statutes or regulations governing abuse or neglect of persons with mental retardation; or (iv) any matter for which there exists another mechanism instituted by law to address the complaint. The Administrator may, however, monitor the processing of such matters to determine whether the person presenting the matter has made full use of existing procedures, and if not, to inform him or her of such procedures. If the matter has not been resolved pursuant to the procedures described in (i) through (iv) above, the Administrator may refer the matter to the Commission for its review.
(c) The Commission shall not consider matters presented by employees of the Department of Mental Retardation when the matter complained of is the proper subject of union grievance proceedings, civil service laws or other processes designed to deal with conditions of employment.
4.2 In performance of their duties as outlined in the preceding Articles, the Commission, its Administrator, or their designee may, subject to applicable law, request such information from agencies of the Commonwealth as is necessary to perform his or her duties.
4.3 The Commission, its Administrator, or their designee may also:
(a) visit mental retardation facilities, residences, and programs, with specific attention to safety, security, and quality of care, provided that reasonable notice is given to the Department of such visits; and
(b) evaluate information and reports from consumers, their families, or others, regarding the effectiveness and adequacy of services and quality assurance mechanisms.
4.4 The Commission and its designees shall be bound by any limitations on the use or release of information imposed by law upon the party furnishing such information.
4.5 Twice annually, the Administrator shall issue an analysis of matters brought to the Commission's attention. The Commission shall provide this analysis to the Governor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Commissioner of Mental Retardation. The analysis shall be public information.
ARTICLE V. Miscellaneous
5.1 To maximize its ability to accomplish its mission, the Commission shall be located in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and shall report directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
5.2 The Commission and the Administrator shall be provided with resources necessary to meet their responsibilities.
5.3 The Department of Mental Retardation and the Commission shall work collaboratively for the benefit of people with mental retardation.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 7th day of November in the year of our Lord two thousand and eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America two hundred and thirty-two.
DEVAL L. PATRICK, GOVERNOR
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
WILLIAM FRANCIS GALVIN
Secretary of the Commonwealth