News Release

  • Permalink Gallery

    Dhingra bill will reform state’s Involuntary Treatment Act

Dhingra bill will reform state’s Involuntary Treatment Act

March 6th, 2020|

An overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House passed Senate Bill 5720 on a 95-2 vote Thursday, reforming Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act to put medical care first when people with behavioral health problems pose a danger to themselves or others.

“The bill updates civil commitment procedures and removes barriers to people getting the help they need,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), the bill’s sponsor. “It prioritizes patient assessment and aftercare.”

The most important change that the bill makes is to extend the initial involuntary hold period to five days. Currently, someone who presents a danger to themselves or others may be involuntarily committed for behavioral health treatment for an initial 72-hour period before a court hearing must be held. However, detox and a comprehensive medical evaluation typically take between three and five days.

Since medical professionals need more than 72 hours for a thorough evaluation, many holds for civil commitment are currently granted extensions in court. The legal proceedings for those extension agreements incur significant costs for the state — money that could otherwise pay for treatment.

Including these extensions, the average number of days a person is detained in Washington state is currently eight. Many states, including Oregon, already have a five-day hold period. This change allows for a full medical evaluation before determining whether a hold needs to be extended.

This bill also undertakes a comprehensive cleanup of the adult and juvenile statutes to coordinate the two effectively. It clarifies terminology, including replacing “mental health” and “substance use disorder” with “behavioral health,” to ensure that people who are seeking crisis services are not put on one track or the other, but are treated holistically under the behavioral health model.

Finally, the bill ensures that people who do not meet the criteria for civil commitment may be discharged at any time by a hospital.

Having been amended by the House, the bill contains differences that must be reconciled by both chambers before it can be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Dhingra bill to create first-in-nation firearm violence prevention office

Dhingra bill to create first-in-nation firearm violence prevention office

March 5th, 2020|

House passage of Senate Bill 6288 today will make Washington the first state in the nation with a dedicated office to collect statewide data on firearm violence, make the data available for public health research, and fund innovative prevention programs in local communities.

“This bill is about understanding where violence occurs in our communities and how we can address it.,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), the bill’s sponsor. “We don’t need to wait until shots have been fired — we need to intervene to prevent violence before it happens.”

SB 6288 would establish the Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, which would work with law enforcement agencies and others to collect and centralize data on firearm violence, including suicide.

In addition, the office would administer the Washington Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, a competitive process to fund evidence-based initiatives undertaken by cities and community-based organizations in Washington.

The office will also publish a guide to best practices for therapy for firearm violence victims as well as establish and staff a statewide helpline, counseling and referral service for survivors of firearm violence, their families and friends, and professionals.

These mental health treatment measures in SB 6288 were developed by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) and proposed earlier this year in SB 6553, which did not pass the Senate.

“The effects of firearm violence on survivors’ mental health can be devastating and long-lasting. We as a state, as a community, need to be doing all that we can to help survivors deal with the trauma, and that’s what this legislation will do,” said Frockt.

The office’s approach is modeled on King County’s Shots Fired project. Every year, 155 King County residents die from gunshots and another 150 are hospitalized, according to a report from the project presented at a work session of the Senate Law & Justice Committee last fall. This violence can cause lifelong trauma for survivors. The Shots Fired project applies a public health approach to firearm violence, with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention. SB 6288 applies the approach statewide.

“In the Legislature, we have been taking meaningful steps to transform our criminal justice system from a crisis response model to an early intervention and prevention model,” Dhingra said. “This bill is an important addition to that work.”

Having passed the House by a vote of 53-44 with a technical amendment, SB 6288 now returns to the Senate for a vote of concurrence.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Senate passes Dhingra bill to establish first-in-the-nation firearm violence prevention office

Senate passes Dhingra bill to establish first-in-the-nation firearm violence prevention office

February 18th, 2020|

Today, the Senate passed legislation to collect statewide data on firearm violence and fund innovative prevention programs in local communities.

Senate Bill 6288 would establish the first-in-the-nation Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, which would work with law enforcement agencies and others to collect and centralize data on firearm violence, including suicide.

In addition, the office would administer the Washington Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, a competitive process to fund evidence-based initiatives undertaken by cities and community-based organizations in Washington.

“This bill is about understanding where violence occurs in our communities and how we can intervene to address it—and making sure that we are helping victims of violence,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), the bill’s prime sponsor.

The office’s approach is modeled on King County’s Shots Fired project. Every year, 155 King County residents die from gunshots, and another 150 are hospitalized, according to a report from the project presented at a work session of the Senate Law & Justice Committee last fall. This violence also causes lifelong trauma for survivors. The Shots Fired project brings a public health approach to firearm violence, with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention. SB 6288 applies the approach statewide.

“In the Legislature, we have been taking meaningful steps to transform our criminal justice system from a crisis response model to an early intervention and prevention model,” Dhingra said. “This bill is an important addition to that work.”

Having passed the Senate on a vote of 25-23, SB 6288 now moves to the House of Representatives.

Senate passes Dhingra bill to help sexual assault survivors

February 5th, 2020|

OLYMPIA — A bill passed unanimously today by the Senate would improve the state’s medical and legal response in sexual assault cases.

Senate Bill 6158, sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), creates a task force to develop model protocols for hospitals and clinics across the state that would ensure a coordinated community response for sexual assault survivors.

“Sexual assault does more than just physical harm,” said Dhingra. “Survivors of these crimes are often dealing with an array of emotional as well as physical traumas that make the aftermath of a sexual assault a particularly vulnerable time. We have to make sure that their experience when they seek help does not continue to inflict more trauma.”

This bill will ensure that Washington state provides a set of evidence-based best practices for hospitals and clinics where sexual assault survivors are treated. The task force will bring together a broad range of groups to provide input and will be composed of legislators, sexual assault survivors, medical providers, judges, representatives of law enforcement, and local government officials, among others.

This is a further step in the Senate Democrats’ extended, multi-year effort to improve Washington state’s medical and legal response to sexual assault. Last year, the Legislature passed laws that extended the statute of limitations for sexual assault (SB 5649) and required hospitals that do not provide rape kits to inform survivors immediately so they can seek a kit at another hospital (HB 1016/SB 5910).

Having passed the Senate by a vote of 49-0, the bill now moves to the House of Representatives.