Joel’s Law signed by the governor

Nearly two years after the death of a Seattle man struggling with bipolar disorder, Joel’s Law was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee May 14. Under Senate Bill 5269, family of mentally ill individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others would be able to petition the courts for involuntary commitment. Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie, co-sponsored the House version of the bill.

The bill is named after Joel Reuter, who was fatally shot by police in 2013 after struggling with a severe bipolar-disorder episode. He had been discharged from the hospital weeks prior.

“Had this law been in place in 2013, Joel Reuter may still be with us today,” said Rodne. “The fact this tragedy had to happen in order to see this critical change to our mental health system through expanding family-access to the courts is unfortunate and unacceptable. I’m proud of the progress we made this year, and look forward to continuing our work to forge a robust mental health system.”

Rodne joined Joel’s parents, Doug and Nancy Reuter, who flew from their home in Texas, as well as others, at the bill signing.

“I am so grateful for Doug and Nancy Reuter, and their tireless efforts working to get this bill signed into law,” added Rodne.

Washington is one of seven states that currently prevents family members from petitioning the courts to review mental-health-commitment determinations.

Bills go into effect 90 days following the adjournment of the 2015 regular session.

PHOTO CAPTION: Gov. Jay Inslee signs Joel’s Law (Senate Bill 5269) May 14, 2015.



Washington State House Republican Communications