Bills to Help People with Mental Illness in California Pass Mental Health Committee

(April 14, 2015) Several California bills proposed by Assemblymembers Eggman, Waldron and Brown passed the mental health committee today and go to other committees. The first two improve Laura’s Law, California’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program. It allows courts to order  noncompliant persons with mental illness who have already become violent or needlessly hospitalized as a result of going off treatment, to stay in six months of mandated and monitored treatment while they live in the community. It’s been very successful in counties and states that use it. The following summaries are based on bills before they were amended by the committees, so this may not be entirely accurate. Check the actual bills.

  • AB1193 (Eggman) eliminates the requirement that counties vote to implement Laura’s Law and eliminates the requirement that counties certify that voluntary programs are not being cut. Counties that don’t want Laura’s Law have to vote not to have it, rather than to have it as before. It also allows superior court judges to request a Laura’s Law petition be filed for individuals who come before the court. It extends Laura’s Law until 2022.
  • AB 59 (Waldron) supposedly complements AB 1193. I believe it removes the sunset (whereas AB 1193 moved it until 2022, but maybe that was one of the provisions removed during the meeting.) It also removes the requirement that counties certify that no voluntary programs are cut before implementing Laura’s Law. That certification requirement basically required counties to maintain failed programs before they could implement Laura’s Law. The bill originally would have authorized the court to order a person to obtain assisted outpatient treatment for up to 12 months, rather than 6 months as is now the case. But that provision was removed at last minute. It allows hospitals to petition for AOT for people who are involuntarily committed to inpatient care (5150) and who are being released. That is a good idea as there are people who are involuntarily committed who could leave the hospital if Laura’s Law was available to them.

Two other bills, not related to Laura’s Law, but that help the seriously ill also passed the mental health committee and move to other committees.

  • AB1194 (Eggman) allows courts to consider past history when deciding when to 5150 (involuntarily commit) someone. Past history is best predictor of future behavior (l,e someone who went off meds in past, and became violent is more likely to become violent again if they again go off meds). AB1194 now goes to appropriations.
  • AB 1237 (Brown) passed mental health committee and goes to next committee. It requires state hospital system to create pool of psychiatrists to evaluate people who are found mentally incompetent to stand trial or who has been found to be insane at the time he or she committed the crime.