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  • What’s Happening in Olympia?! A Summary of the 2018 Legislative Session - Melanie Smith, Professional Lobbyist; Julia Kocian LSWAIC, MPH, WSSCSW Legislative Chair; Laura Groshong, LICSW WSSCSW Former Legislative Chair

What’s Happening in Olympia?! A Summary of the 2018 Legislative Session - Melanie Smith, Professional Lobbyist; Julia Kocian LSWAIC, MPH, WSSCSW Legislative Chair; Laura Groshong, LICSW WSSCSW Former Legislative Chair

May 25, 2018 9:10 AM | Emily Fell (Administrator)

WSSCSW’s lobbyists are hard at work pushing for the changes in our state legislature that we want to see for the health of our profession and our clients. The 2018 Session saw a number of big wins for mental health, including large state investments in our community mental health system. Approximately 130 million dollars was allocated for community mental health--the greatest investment in years! Here are some highlights from this year’s whirlwind short session:

Children’s Mental Health HB 2779 - PASSED. This bill does a number of important things, including requiring stakeholders to work on the Parent Initiated Treatment (PIT) Process. DSHS must convene an advisory group of stakeholders to review the PIT process and develop recommendations regarding:

  • the age of consent for behavioral health treatment of minors;

  • options for parental involvement in youth treatment decisions;

  • information communicated to families and providers about the PIT process; and

  • the definition of medical necessity for emergency mental health services and options for parental involvement in those determinations.


The advisory group must also review the effectiveness of serving commercially sexually exploited children using PIT, involuntary treatment, or other treatment services. By December 1, 2018, DSHS must report the findings and recommendations of the advisory group to the Children’s Mental Health Work Group. WSSCSW has requested to participate in the PIT advisory group to advocate for youth interests and responsible, healthy parental involvement.

Banning Conversion Therapy SB 5722 - PASSED. It is now an unlawful practice for any mental health provider to practice so called “conversion therapy” with LGBTQ minors.  We are the 10th state in the US to ban conversion therapy.

An Act Related to Preventing Suicide by Permitting the Voluntary Waiver of Firearm Rights SB 5553 - PASSED.  This bill allows individuals to voluntarily waive their rights to purchase a firearm for a temporary period of time and can be used to help protect clients who are at risk for suicide. According to this bill, by January 1, 2019, the clerk of court will have developed a procedure by which an individual can sign a voluntary waiver and add their name to the Washington State Patrol electronic database. After seven days, the same individual will be able to revoke the waiver. The identity of those utilizing the procedure will be protected from public record throughout.

Volk- No Legislative Action Available. There is still work to be done in the aftermath of the Volk decision, but it will have to be done outside the legislative session. This has been one of our primary areas of legislative effort in recent years due to its potential implications for practitioner liability. This year, we have gained a budget proviso that will allow us to develop best practice standards, which can be used as a legal defense against charges of negligence, but the court ruling will stand. For a more in depth look at the Volk case and its implications, please refer to the article Understanding Volk, also to appear in On Our Minds.

Join the Effort!

As you can tell, we’ve made significant progress in some areas, and still there is much work to be done! WSSCSW will be hosting an event for your continued education and involvement in our legislative efforts--you will have the opportunity to meet our lobbyist, express your legislative concerns and find out how you can help us accomplish our ongoing goals for advocacy in the coming months and years. Now, more than ever, we need to be vocal on behalf of our profession and the clients we serve so that we can sustain and grow the health of our communities. Detailed event information will be emailed to members and posted to the events calendar soon!



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