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February 14, 2014 at 12:20 PM

State House unanimously passes ‘Joel’s Law’; cost concerns remain

The state House unanimously voted this morning to approve a bill to allow people to appeal to a court if officials decline to involuntarily commit a mentally ill family member.

The vote represented a victory for Doug and Nancy Reuter, who conceived and pushed the bill after their 28-year-old son, Joel, of Capitol Hill, was killed by police after shooting near them last summer. The parents had tried unsuccessfully to get Joel committed for weeks.

House Bill 2725, called “Joel’s Law,” now moves to the state Senate.

“This bill is one of the most significant, important bills that we’re going to consider this session because it’s going to save lives,” said state Rep. Jay Rodne, a North Bend Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

West Seattle Democrat Eileen Cody added, “This bill gives families one more option — one that I believe they need.”

Forty-five states allow for appeals to a court.

But despite that statistic and the unanimous House vote, the bill is far from a shoo-in.

Some civil libertarians and mental-health advocates have come out against the proposal, arguing the system is already overwhelmed by commitments and undergoing lots of changes.

More recently, a fiscal analysis of the bill showed it could force the state to build more mental-health facilities at a cost of at least $15 million.

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

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