2023-2024 Legislative Agenda

HB 2455

CROA strongly supports HB 2245, sponsored by Representative Dan Bronoske. HB 2245 expands the impact of SB 5644, and establishes fire, police, and 911 dispatch based co-response as a critical part of the behavioral health/crisis response system. It creates a 40-hour training academy, resulting in certification, for members of co-response teams. The legislation includes a provision establishing a new, state-wide peer support service for co-responders, workforce development provisions, and measures to encourage 988/911 coordination. Over 70 individuals and organizations signed on to support HB 2245 when it was first heard in the Health Care & Wellness Committee on January 17, 2024. On February 12, 2024, HB 2245 passed the House with unanimous support; yeas, 97; nays, 0.  The bill will move to the Senate for further consideration.

Despite the constraints posed by the short session, HB 2245 faced a setback and was unable to secure passage through the Senate. Nevertheless, a promising alternative emerged in the form of a proviso to replace HB 2245, which was successfully passed.  The proviso allocates $535,000 to the University of Washington School of Social Work to establish and develop curriculum for a crisis response training academy for teams of first responders and mental health professionals in three behavioral health regional service areas inclusive of planning for a certificate program.  This significant provision aims to solidify co-response services and training as integral components of the crisis care continuum. Looking ahead, the definition of co-response will be revisited and reintroduced for consideration in the upcoming 2024-2025 legislative session.

To view the history of HB 2245 through the 2023-2024 legislative process, visit the following link: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2245&Year=2023.

SB 5644

SB 5644-providing quality behavioral co-response services-passed in the Washington legislature on March 7, 2022. This little bill (the final text was just over 2 pages) had a tremendous effect on co-response programs throughout the state and the behavioral healthcare system.

SB 5644 has created a partnership between the Co-Responder Outreach Alliance and the University of Washington School of Social Work to develop training for co-response teams (fire/EMS and police) and promote skills and best practices. Funds were provided to hold a co-response conference and to evaluate co-response programs in Washington State. In addition, 5644 started the process of aligning co-response with the work of DCRs, alternative response teams, and mobile crisis teams that do not include first responders-critical as 988 is implemented and changes are made to our crisis response system.

5644 became law in 2022 with overwhelming bipartisan support (49-0 in the Senate, 96-0 in the House.). CROA appreciates Senators Wagoner and Frockt’s leadership on this issue–and the fact that D’s and R’s came together to support first responders and co-responders who are helping vulnerable residents.