Escondido, CA
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Mental Health Advocacy

~ Guest Opinion

As a member of the Mental Health Caucus and also the Assembly Health Committee, I am working on bipartisan solutions to address the mental health issues in our state.

Last session I introduced AB 59, signed into law by Governor Brown, to extend the sunset date for assisted outpatient treatment for severely mentally ill persons. San Diego is one of several participating California counties. The program, known as Laura’s Law, has assisted otherwise untreated individuals return to productive lives. According to a recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, just the possibility of invoking the law has resulted in voluntary participation for treatment.

Last year introduced AB 532, to set up a program authorizing counties to offer mental health and addiction treatment services to women charged with misdemeanors. Recent changes in state laws have resulted in more misdemeanor and fewer felony convictions, with misdemeanor violators generally being cited and released without tapping into existing wraparound services. AB 532 passed both houses, but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Brown.

This session, I am co-authoring SB 1010, introduced by Senator Jim Beall (D – San Jose). Since homeless parolees are seven times more likely to reoffend than those who are housed, the bill requires the California Department of Corrections to use savings from federal reimbursement for mental health treatment to fund rental assistance to participants during their terms of parole. Participating counties would provide community-based mental health treatment already available under Medi-Cal. SB 1010 is awaiting its first committee assignment.

If we provide treatment and reduce homelessness, crime rates will fall, lives and tax dollars will be saved.  Mental health treatment and wraparound services are a large unmet need in our state.

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Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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