Good afternoon and at long last the legislature has (hopefully) adjourned for the rest of 2015!

Here is an updated bill chart that features a couple last moment favorable surprises, including passage of HB 2263 (the additional one-tenth of one percent local option sales tax increase for enhanced mental health and related services) and HB 2212 (expediting the ability of hospitals to increase the number of their involuntary psychiatric beds).

Most of the operating budget line items can be found at pages 134-137 (DSHS, Mental Health) of the Agency Detail and Statewide Summary report at this web site.

But here are some additional matters of note found in other departments:

· At page 66, Washington State Health Care Authority: assessments collected “from participating hospitals [will] leverage federal funding for hospitals and decrease General Fund-State expenditures. Funding is provided for the University of Washington’s residential and integrated psychiatry programs starting in FY 2016.” The latter program will enhance the delivery of mental health services (such as suicide prevention consultations) particularly in the rural areas – a priority for the Washington State Psychiatric Association;

· At pages 116-117, Criminal Justice Training Commission: $1.239m is allocated for statewide Crisis Intervention Training (HB 2015, $624k for King County CIT training and $240k for the second and third year of “a five-year longitudinal study of the effectiveness of the crisis intervention training at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in the 2013-2105 biennium.”

· At pages 132-133, DSHS, Juvenile Rehabilitation: $60k is appropriated “for transition and contracted psychiatric services to facilitate telemedicine in community facilities and ensure there is no gap in mental health services upon arrival to a community facility, prior to the youth’s first community mental health appointment.”

· At pages 149-150, DSHS, Alcohol & Substance Abuse: $3.081m additional funding (beyond what is provided under DSHS, Mental Health) for Assisted Outpatient Treatment (HB 1450);

· At pages 177-179, Public Schools: $215k is provided on a one-time basis for “the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene a workgroup to make recommendations on comprehensive benchmarks for developmentally appropriate interpersonal and decision-making knowledge and skills of social and emotional learning for kindergarten through high school. The workgroup is directed to submit its recommendations to the Legislature’s education committees and to the Office of the Governor by October 1, 2016.”

· At pages 207-208, The Evergreen State College: $121k is budgeted to implement SB 5649, which in part “requires the Washington Institute for Public Policy to complete a study by December 1, 2015, regarding the implementation of certain aspects of the Involuntary Treatment Act.” [DSHS must collaborate with the RSNs and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to estimate the capacity needed for E&T services within each regional service area, including consideration of average occupancy rates needed to ensure access to treatment.]

...A solid half year of advocacy everybody!

So it would be good to thank the key budget negotiators and the various prime sponsors for their exceptional work in an extremely challenging session.

On the other hand, the extensive delays in concluding the session were certainly problematic. For instance, some of my clients will be sending me facts and figures about the extra work and stress involved in having to tell employees that may have to be laid off with little or no notice if government had to be shut down, and other kinds of associated difficulties. I’ll be sharing that information with legislators in the hope that we don’t have to go through this again, in case you also have any such details you’d like me to share – and I don’t need to identify particular people or organizations in doing so if you rather I didn’t.

Down below: a policy opening at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, and update from Rep. Senn re: Social Emotional Learning and recent articles.

--Seth Dawson, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Washington), Washington State Psychiatric Association, and Compass Health