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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 28, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Joel Reuter’s parents get bill introduced in state House

OLYMPIA — The parents of Joel Reuter, a 28-year-old mentally ill man who was shot and killed by police on the balcony of his Capitol Hill condo last summer, have succeeded in introducing a version of a bill they think could have saved his life.

But the Reuters, who moved from Texas to Olympia to lobby for the bill, had to significantly scale back their proposal to do it.

House Bill 2725 was referred Tuesday to that chamber’s Judiciary Committee. No hearing has yet been scheduled.

The bill is being sponsored by state Rep. Eileen Cody, a West Seattle Democrat and chairwoman of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

An identical bill will be introduced by a Senate Republican, according to the Reuters.

The proposal would achieve just part of one of the three goals that the Reuters outlined in a Seattle Times profile published Sunday: under the proposal, if the county decided not to involuntarily commit a mentally ill person, an immediate family member could appeal the decision to a court.

The change would be a step toward a process in place in 45 states — allowing people to formally petition for a family member to be committed.

But the bill would not add “persistently or acutely disabled” to the list of conditions that could trigger an involuntary commitment — leaving the criteria that a person must be “gravely disabled” or in imminent danger of harming self or others.

And it would not mandate more follow-up monitoring after involuntary commitments end, another goal the Reuters had to give up due to civil-liberties concerns and questions about how much it would cost.

We have no choice — for now,” said Doug Reuter, adding he hopes lawmakers will eventually take up more legislation.

Comments | More in State Legislature | Topics: Doug Reuter, Eileen Cody, involuntary commitment


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