Mental health bill known as “Joel’s Law” passes off House floor

During floor action on Thursday, the House voted unanimously to pass a bill to enable family of mentally ill individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others to petition the courts for involuntary commitment. Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie, is the co-sponsor of this bill, HB 1258.

“We’re dealing with a broken mental health system,” said Rodne. “This bill is about our families and our mentally ill. No individual should have to suffer through a disability without receiving proper care and attention, and no family should have to struggle and watch their loved ones endure that.”

The bill is named after Joel Reuter, a man struggling with bipolar disorder who was fatally shot by police in 2013 just weeks after being discharged from the hospital. Washington is one of seven states that prevents family members from petitioning the court to review a decision to not commit a mentally ill person.

Rodne joined six other lawmakers in offering remarks on the floor, saying “the status quo is unacceptable” and the current law does not appropriately account for the emotional struggles it inflicts on families.

The entire HB 1258 floor debate can be viewed here.

HB 1258 now moves on to the Senate, where it will go through the committee process before reaching the Senate floor.

The 2015 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 26.



Washington State House Republican Communications