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Office of Mental Health

Mental Health Services Council Bylaws

Article I: Officers

Section 1. The Officers of the Council shall be a Chair and Executive Secretary. The Chair shall be designated by the Governor. The Executive Secretary shall be an employee of the Office of Mental Health assigned by the Commissioner to provide and coordinate support services for the Council.

Section 2. In the absence of the Chair, he or she shall designate one of the Council members to preside during his or her absence. In the event that the Chair has not made such a designation, the Council may elect one of its members to preside.

Article II: Duties

Section 1. The Officers of the Council shall perform the duties ordinarily associated with their respective offices.

Section 2. The Chair shall supervise the Council’s work. He or she shall have the power, unless otherwise provided by the Council, to represent the Council before the Governor, committees of the Legislature, or public authorities.

Section 3. The Chair shall ensure that new Council members receive orientation regarding their responsibilities as Council members, the functions of the Council, the organization of the Office of Mental Health and other related and pertinent matters. The Chair may request assistance from Office of Mental Health staff concerning the orientation of new Council Members.

Article III: Meetings Of The Council

Section 1. The Council shall meet at least four times in each full calendar year. Additional meetings of the Council or of a Committee on behalf of the Full Council may be called by the Commissioner or the Chair, upon their own initiative. Additional meetings of the Council may also be called upon request from a majority of Council members.

Section 2. To the extent practicable, the Council’s meeting schedule shall be set at the beginning of each calendar year. If changes in the meeting schedule are required, effort shall be made to provide as much advance notice of such changes as possible.

Section 3. The Chair shall notify the Executive Secretary at least one week in advance of any meeting other than a regularly scheduled meeting. The Executive Secretary shall notify each member of the Council by mailing a notice to each member not less than five days before the meeting. Council members shall designate a regular mail address or an electronic mail address for the receipt of Council notices.

Section 4. All meetings shall be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, and a record of each vote shall be maintained. A majority (14 members) of the full Council shall constitute a quorum, and all matters requiring action shall be passed by a vote of no less than a majority of those present and not abstaining. Each abstention, including an abstention required because of a conflict of interest under Article V, shall be counted as a vote for the purpose of establishing a quorum. Members present at a meeting shall be recorded as voting with the majority unless a member specifically requests that he or she be counted as voting with the minority, or abstaining. The normal method of voting shall be by voice. If the Chair or any other member expresses a doubt about the outcome of a voice vote, the vote shall be verified. To verify a vote, the vote shall be retaken by a show of hands or by rising. On the request of any member of the Council, a roll call vote on any question shall be taken by ayes and nays, abstentions noted, and the name and vote or abstention of each Council member entered in the minutes.

Section 5. Council members are expected to attend all meetings of the Council.

  1. If a Council member is not able to attend a meeting, he or she shall give the Chair or Executive Secretary at least 24 hours prior notice, except in emergency situations in which notice shall be provided as soon as it is practicable. The Executive Secretary shall note in the minutes of the meeting all members who are not in attendance at the meeting but have provided proper prior notice that they would be unable to attend.
  2. If a Council member fails to attend three consecutive regular meetings of the Council or a total of four meetings within any calendar year, the Chair shall confer with the Commissioner to determine whether to recommend that the Council request such member’s resignation. If the member does not resign within three months after receiving a copy of a notice reflecting such a request by the Council and the member continues not to attend Council meetings on a regular basis, the Chair may request a motion at the next regular meeting that the Council recommend to the Governor that action be initiated, consistent with the requirements of the Public Officers Law, to remove the member from office as a member of the Council and that a replacement member be appointed forthwith.

Section 6. Meetings of the Council shall be noticed and conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Open Meetings Law as set forth in Article 7 of the Public Officers Law. Minutes shall be taken at all open meetings of the Council, which minutes shall consist of a record or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon and the vote thereon. At the start of each meeting, the minutes from the previous meeting shall be considered by the Council for formal approval, with corrections and clarifications to be noted and incorporated.

Section 7. The Council may issue guidelines with regard to participation of members of the public in Council or Committee meetings. Absent such guidelines, members of the public shall not have a right to speak or otherwise participate in meetings unless granted such right at the discretion of the Council or Committee Chair.

Article IV: Committees

Section 1. There shall be the following standing committees of the Council:

  1. Project Review Committee (PRC): The PRC reviews Prior Approval Review (PAR) applications for consistency with criteria specified in PAR regulations and advises the full Council of the PRC’s findings on individual projects. The full Council considers the PRC’s report and forwards a recommendation to the Commissioner.
    1. To ensure that projects are reviewed expeditiously, the PRC is authorized to meet and formulate a recommendation to the Commissioner on behalf of the full Council whenever the Council is not scheduled to meet for a period of more than sixty days. When meeting on behalf of the full Council, the PRC is required to have a majority of its members present to constitute a quorum and any action which will be the basis for a recommendation to the Commissioner is required to be based on a vote equal to at least a majority of those present and not abstaining. (Each abstention shall be counted as a vote for the purpose of establishing a quorum.)
    2. All meetings of the PRC on behalf of the full Council are required to be conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Law as set forth in Article 7 of the Public Officers Law. Minutes shall be taken at all open meetings of the PRC, which minutes shall consist of a record or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon and the vote thereon.
  2. Regulations Committee: The function of the Regulations Committee is to review all proposed rules and regulations of the Office of Mental Health, except emergency regulations, which are exempt from its review, and to report its recommendations to the full Council. The full Council considers the Regulation Committee’s report and forwards a recommendation to the Commissioner.
    1. To ensure that regulations are reviewed expeditiously, the Regulations Committee is authorized to meet and formulate a recommendation to the Commissioner on behalf of the full Council whenever the Council is not scheduled to meet for a period of more than sixty days. When meeting on behalf of the full Council, the Regulations Committee is required to have a majority of its members present to constitute a quorum and any action which will be the basis for a recommendation to the Commissioner is required to be based on a vote equal to at least a majority of those present and not abstaining. (Each abstention shall be counted as a vote for the purpose of establishing a quorum.)
    2. All meetings of the Regulations Committee on behalf of the full Council are required to be conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Law as set forth in Article 7 of the Public Officers Law. Minutes shall be taken at all open meetings of the Regulations Committee, which minutes shall consist of a record or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon and the vote thereon.
    3. To ensure that regulations may be promulgated promptly following approval of the regulations by the Council, proposed regulations may be submitted to the Council electronically any time in between Council meetings with a hard copy to be delivered to Council members at least five business days prior to the meeting at which the regulations will be considered for approval. Distribution of an electronic copy of proposed regulations to all Council members at least sixty days in advance of the promulgation of the regulations shall be deemed to satisfy the statutory requirement that proposed regulations be submitted to the Council for review at least sixty days prior to adoption.
  3. Planning Committee: The major function of the Planning Committee is to review and comment on Office of Mental Health plans, including but not limited to the Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services which is required by Section 5.07 of the Mental Hygiene Law, and make recommendations to the full Council. The full Council considers the Planning Committee’s report and forwards a recommendation to the Commissioner. The Planning Committee may also be asked by the Commissioner or the full Council to focus on other issues on an ad hoc basis.

Section 2. Each standing committee shall consist of three or more members of the Council. Unless it is necessary to add or replace committee members at another time during the year, the Chair shall appoint all members of standing committees and designate the Chair of each Committee at the first meeting of each calendar year. The Council Chair may, as he or she deems necessary, add or replace committee members at any other meeting of the Council.

Section 3. The Council may at any time provide for the establishment of such additional committees as it deems necessary to address the service needs of special populations, such as children and adolescents, people with chronic mental illness, racial and ethnic minorities, people who are elderly and people with multiple disabilities, and to address particular subjects of importance in the development and management of mental health services required to serve the citizens of New York state. The Chair may also at any time provide for the establishment of ad hoc committees on any subject or subjects deemed necessary to advance the work of the Council. All such ad hoc committees, not previously discharged by the Chair, shall be discharged at the first meeting of the calendar year following the appointment of such committees, unless the Chair shall continue them. The Chair may also appoint, without regard to membership on the Council, such advisory committees as he or she believes will further the purposes of the Council.

Section 4. When making a report to the Council, a committee should, in addition to reporting any recommendations of the majority of the committee, endeavor to report any significant deliberations leading to such recommendations as well as any significant comments, opinions, or recommendations of committee members who did not support the majority recommendations.

Article V: Code Of Ethics And Conflicts Of Interest

Section 1. Code of Ethics

  1. No member of the Council should have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties as a Council member.
  2. Members should exercise their duties and responsibilities as Council members in the public interest of the inhabitants of the state, regardless of their affiliation with, or relationship to, any facility, agency or program, category of provider, or interest group.
  3. The standards which should guide the conduct of Council members are set forth in Public Officers Law Section 74. If a Council member is uncertain as to the application of the Code of Ethics, the Public Officers Law or any of the provisions of this Article V, he or she should seek advice either from the Office of Mental Health Counsel’s Office or the New York State Public Integrity Commission.

Section 2. Prior to the first meeting of each calendar year of the Council, and throughout the year if needed to update information and keep the Council current, each member shall submit to the Executive Secretary a written statement on a form provided identifying each agency or facility funded or licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health in which he or she or a member of his or her family has an interest, financial or otherwise, whether as owner, officer, director, fiduciary employee, consultant or supplier of goods or services. For purposes of this Article, Afamily@ shall include a spouse, children under 21 years of age, and any other relative living in the member’s household. Prior to the meeting, the Executive Secretary shall distribute to each member a copy of the annual statement submitted by all other members.

Section 3. Project Review. This section applies both to activities of the full Council and activities of committees of the Council.

  1. Absolute Disqualification. When a member or his or her family has an interest, financial or otherwise, whether as owner, officer, fiduciary employee, consultant or supplier of goods or services, to or in a program, agency or facility funded or licensed by the Office of Mental Health which program, agency or facility has an application pending before the Council or a committee of the Council for consideration or determination, that member shall be deemed to have a conflict of interest and shall (i) refrain from discussing such application with any member of the Council or any Office of Mental Health staff at any time prior to or at any Council or committee meeting when the application is to be considered, (ii) absent himself or herself from any portion of any meeting when such application is considered, and ( iii) not participate in any vote of the Council or committee on that application.
  2. Disclosure and Possible Disqualification. When a member or his or her family has any of the above noted interests to or in a program, agency or facility funded or licensed by the Office of Mental Health, the status of which might reasonably be affected by the application of another facility, agency or program which is pending before the Council or a committee of the Council, or when a member has a interest or association which might reasonably be construed as tending to embarrass the Council or elicit public suspicion that the member might be engaged in acts in violation of his trust as a Council member, he or she shall, at the time of formal consideration of such application by the Council or committee, disclose such interest or association so that the Chair and, if necessary, the Council or committee can determine whether the member’s participation in the discussion of such application or vote of the Council or committee thereon would be proper.
  3. Prior to discussion or vote on an application, and at the request of the Chair, the Council members shall disclose all actual or potential conflicts and, when appropriate, explain the conflicts. When a member does not disclose an actual or potential conflict, the Chair may remind such member of such actual or potential conflict.
  4. In the case of conflicts constituting Absolute Disqualification, the members with such conflicts shall immediately leave the meeting and remain absent during the period when the application is under consideration. In the case of conflicts constituting possible disqualification, the Chair shall rule upon such conflicts, subject to appeal by motion to the Council or committee, which may override the Chair’s decision by the affirmative vote of a majority of those present, excluding those members who are the subject of the vote.
  5. Prior to any discussion or vote on an application, the Chair may, at his or her discretion, request members to disclose any conversation or correspondence they have had with the applicant, any competitor of the applicant, other Council members or Office of Mental Health staff regarding the application.

Section 4. Pending Regulations and Policy Matters

  1. Disclosure at Committee Meetings. When a member of a committee of the Council or his or her family has any of the interests noted in section 3(a) of this Article in a facility, agency or program, the status of which might reasonably be affected by a regulation or policy matter which is before the committee, or when a member has an interest or association which might reasonably be construed as tending to embarrass the Council or committee or elicit public suspicion that he or she might be engaged in acts in violation of his or her trust, the member shall, at the time of formal consideration of such regulation or policy matter by the committee, disclose such interest or association to the committee so that it is fully aware of such member’s interest or association. A committee member who discloses such interest or association may, but shall not be required to, abstain from participation in the discussion of or vote on such regulation or policy matter at the committee meeting.
  2. Disclosure at Council Meetings. When the Chair of any committee which considered a regulation or policy matter reports the committee’s deliberations and recommendations to the Council, the committee Chair shall indicate in the report all interests or associations disclosed by committee members and state how such members voted with respect to the committee’s recommendations. A committee member who disclosed such interest or association may, but shall not be required to, abstain from participation in the discussion of or vote on such regulation or policy matter at the Council meeting.

Section 5. The minutes of each meeting of the Council shall reflect all disclosures, discussions, votes and abstentions regarding conflicts of interest.

Article VI: Office Of The Council– Executive Secretary

Section 1. The official headquarters of the Council, at which the official copy of its minutes, records, documents, and others papers shall be kept, shall be the office of the Executive Secretary within the Office of Mental Health, Albany, New York.

Section 2. The Executive Secretary shall be responsible for the safekeeping of all minutes, papers, records, documents, correspondence, and other things belonging to the Council. Every member of the Council shall have access to all such minutes, papers, records, documents, correspondence, and other things belonging to the Council during the ordinary office hours of the Office of Mental Health.

Section 3. The Executive Secretary shall prepare a set of minutes of each meeting of the Council as soon as practicable after the meeting and shall send a copy of said minutes to each member of the Council as soon as practicable. The minutes, as approved or corrected, shall serve as the legal (public) record of a meeting of the Council.

Section 4. The Executive Secretary shall retain on file and have available at each meeting of the Council a copy of the current annual statement submitted by each Council member in accordance with Article V hereof which reflects his or her interests and those of his or her family in any facility, agency or program funded or licensed by the Office of Mental Health, and a copy of a current list of all Council members which indicates the interest or capacity in which that member serves on the Council (e.g., provider, family member).

Section 5. Whenever the Executive Secretary is absent from the office, he or she shall designate some person to be in charge of all such minutes, papers, records, documents, correspondence, and other things belonging to the Council during such absence.

Section 6. If requested by the Chair, the Executive Secretary shall prepare and send, or assist the Chair in sending, official notice of recommendations of the Council to the Commissioner. The Executive Secretary shall also administer the daily business of the Council under the general direction of the Chair. The Executive Secretary shall work with the Public Information Officer of the Office of Mental Health in making available records requested under the Freedom of Information Law and in making announcements to the media and public of scheduled meetings as required by the Open Meetings Law, and shall otherwise act as the official Council representative under the general direction of the Chair. The Executive Secretary shall also perform such other duties as are customarily attached to that office.

Article VII: Amendment Of Bylaws

These Bylaws may be amended by the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the full Council at any regular or special meeting, provided that notice of the proposed amendment and text thereof have been given at the previous meeting, or at least sixty days in advance of the meeting at which the vote will be called, and that a copy of the proposed amendment has been sent by the Executive Secretary to each member of the Council.

Comments or questions about the information on this page can be directed to the Office of Planning.