The bill is supported “as a relatively modest step in the right direction” by the Washington State chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an organization that has raised the ire of mentally ill people across America and the support from a vast amount of neurotypicals. In a recent private message about the bill, the Executive Director of NAMI Washington has told me that she thinks HB 1258 might not have “the intended consequence” if the standards for institutionalization in the "underlying Involuntary Treatment Act standard" are not lowered--specifically from "imminent risk" to "substantial likelihood--" because according to NAMI "the courts will either have to evaluate the decision under the same standard as the [designated mental health professional] or under an even more demanding standard of 'abuse of discretion.'"
They have already done a public hearing on it on Wednesday, February 18th. I was in Olympia for a different bill regarding restraint and seclusion two days before and was unaware that I would need to go to Olympia again so I was not present. You can find a taping of it here. The Ways and Means committee is having a meeting about it on the 23rd so it seems like they’re getting prepared to pass the final piece of legislation.
Here's the issue: this legislation is misguided and dangerous.
There is an assumption of benevolence attributed to people associated with mentally ill and disabled people in general. Neurodivergent K has talked about how this assumption of benevolence leads to abuse because the idea is "who would hurt a disabled person!" The truth is--a lot. As a recent example, a woman in Spokane slashed her autistic son's throat just three days ago. Thankfully, he is alive and not part of the list of disabled people murdered by their parents or caregivers who are mourned every March 1st in the National Day of Mourning.
What does this have to do with this legislation? People will use their new powers over their immediate family member as a means of control. A judge, given the background of the law, the stigma associated with mentally ill persons (that we are inherently dangerous), the assumption of benevolence to psychiatric facilities and their immediate family member, and just wanting to make sure they won't be responsible for a murder and/or suicide, they are likely to institutionalize them. In addition, a judge will likely not have the necessary background in mental health to make a good determination. Also, it is very likely that abusive parents of queer kids will use this against them.
That is a problem.
And there is another issue: what this legislation seeks to solve--police violence. When we try to solve for police violence we should not be blaming the victim! We should be taking a look at how our police force is systemically hurting/murdering disabled people and disabled people of color. That may not be easy, but is at the very least a solution.