January 27, 2011

Hearing set on bills to close, and bills to retain institutions

The Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee on Monday takes up Senate Bill 5132, the “poison pill” legislation that would remove the statutory authority for state institutions. That would give a governor, not the Legislature, sole power to shut down vital facilities caring for developmentally disabled citizens, juvenile offenders and mentally ill adults and children.

The hearing will be 1:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31, in Senate Hearing Room 4 in the John A. Cherberg Building on the Capitol Campus.

SB 5132 takes away the statutory authority for: residential habilitation centers – Frances Haddon Morgan Center, Yakima Valley School, Lakeland Village, Rainier School and Fircrest School; juvenile rehabilitation facilities – Maple Lane School, Green Hill School, Naselle Youth Camp and Echo Glen Children’s Center; and the three state mental health institutions, Eastern State Hospital, Western State Hospital and the Child Study and Treatment Center.

The committee will also take up SB 5459 that we told you about yesterday that mandates closure of the Morgan Center by June 30 and Yakima Valley School by the end of 2012.

Also on the Monday agenda is a commendable bill. Sen. Maralyn Chase of the 32nd District has put forward SB 5429 that retains the statutory authorization for the residential habilitation centers and declares that the RHCs “must be fostered and supported by the state.” There is language on choice of placement and protections in case of closure or discharge.

A bill similar but not identical to Chase’s was introduced today in the House: House Bill 1620, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton of the 23rd District.

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