As we end the Washington Legislature’s Special Session, though most of the budget issues are still on the table, you have helped NAMI Washington score a heartening victory! Implementation of all the Involuntary Treatment Act (ITAa) amendments that we fought so hard for in 2010 was slated, as a cost saving measure, to be delayed until 2015. Your voices helped convince legislators to save part of those amendments from the delay.
The Senate and House Bills mandating implementation delay that now are proceeding in both houses allow implementation of the new definition of “credible witnesses,” whose input must be considered by Designated Mental Health Professionals (DMHPs) conducting an ITA exam, to go into effect as originally scheduled. This definition includes “family members, landlords, neighbors, or others with significant contact and history of involvement with the person.” The inclusion of family members’ input has been a significant priority for NAMI Washington for many years. We are very glad that we will not have to wait until 2015 for this provision to take effect.
In a session in which there were so few winners, NAMI members have every right to be proud of this accomplishment. We want to thank all those who have taken the time and energy to meet with, phone, email, and write their legislators as well as those who so ably testified before the legislative committees. Through your efforts we were able to salvage the implementation schedule on this important provision. We also want to extend special thanks to Jim Bloss, who is leading this effort so ably, Farrell Adrian, and Chief Turner, all of whom did a great job of presenting our positions to the legislative committees considering these bills.
KUDOS to all.
That said, this is no time to relax. We need to continue to be a presence in the legislative process. Our issues and our people are all too easily ignored if we do not stand up and advocate.