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Bill to reform mental health care system in California is approved by lawmakers


Sep 15, 2023

California lawmakers are working to pass a number of bills before Congress adjourns at midnight. These bills will then be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for his consideration. It is rare for lawmakers to override a governor’s veto. Two mental health-related proposals have been signed by state senators and will be put to voters next March. The first proposal, introduced by Rep. Jackie Irwin, would allow the state to borrow $6.38 billion to build new treatment beds and housing. The second proposal, by Sen. Susan Eggman, would change how counties pay for mental and behavioral health programs. Both proposals have the support of Governor Newsom. Irwin’s proposal would be the largest expansion to the state’s mental health system, providing funding for 10,000 treatment beds and housing units, as well as grants to local governments and Indian tribes. Eggman’s bill, which would limit how local governments can use special taxes, passed unanimously in the Senate. However, it is unclear whether Newsom will sign it. The bill could benefit hotel workers and Hollywood actors and writers who have been on strike, but critics argue it could worsen California’s already collapsing fund for unemployment benefits. Another bill approved by lawmakers aims to reform the state’s guardianship system for people with mental illness. The bill, authored by Sen. Eggman, would make it easier for authorities to provide care to those with untreated mental illness or addiction. Local governments currently face limitations in providing assistance. The bill still requires a final vote in the Senate before reaching Governor Newsom’s desk. Newsom has expressed support for the direction of the bill but has not committed to signing it. If the bill becomes law, it will go into effect in 2026 and expand the definition of severely disabled individuals. Some disability rights advocates are concerned about the implications of the bill. These bills are part of California’s ongoing efforts to reform its mental health system, following last year’s legislation that established a court process allowing treatment plans for certain individuals with specific diagnoses.

By Editor

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