Legislative Committee Co-Leads
As we approach the end of 2023, the Legislative Committee for The Miles Hall Foundation wants to take a moment to reflect on our collective efforts and accomplishments over the past year.
One of our major triumphs in 2022 was the successful passage of AB-988, The Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act. This significant legislation, named after Miles, will reshape how mental health crises are addressed here in California and sets a precedent for how they will be addressed across the nation.
After the passing of AB-988, the Legislative Committee took the opportunity to review our Legislative team strategy and set our intentions at the beginning of the year. Our intentions for this year were set on:
AB-988 Implementation Progress
As we transitioned into the implementation phase of AB-988, it has been heartening to see the wheels in motion at both the state and local level. We've witnessed slow but steady developments from the state with the creation of The Office of Emergency Service’s 9-8-8 Technical Advisory Board and, recently, the Health and Human Services 9-8-8 Advisory Board.
Both of these boards have included The Miles Hall Foundation Board members which demonstrates the commitment to include members of varied expertise and experiences (including personal lived experience) and shows the tangible impact of our advocacy.
Challenges and Accountability
Our journey, however, hasn't been without challenges. The delays in meeting the deadlines outlined in AB-988, while not unusual, are a concern. It's crucial that we continue advocating for accountability at both the county and state levels. Our involvement in implementation tracking and ongoing communication with key stakeholders will be instrumental in addressing these challenges head-on.
Trailer Bill and Budget Updates
While the state missed the initial deadlines for organizing the HHS advisory board and appointing a director of 9-8-8 as set out in the initial legislation, the recent developments regarding the Trailer Bill and budget allocations are noteworthy.
The government approved $15 million in additional funding in the budget for startup costs of AB-988, a testament to California’s recognition of the importance of mental health services.
We will continue to monitor the need for future allocations to ensure the 988 system is sufficiently funded. The Trailer Bill included important language ensuring that 988 funds are directed towards call centers and mobile crisis teams, as well as requirements that these services be covered by public health insurance plans.
The bill also extended implementation deadlines by several years, a change we were unhappy to see. Representative Rebecca Bauer-Kahan continues to be a fierce advocate for reform, and was successful in preventing more damaging amendments from passing that would have significantly weakened AB-988.
We will continue to scrutinize proposed amendments and advocate for the preservation of critical elements in the legislation. At this time, we do not anticipate any other major efforts to amend AB-988 as enacted.
At the local level, the progress in Contra Costa County, including the establishment of the The Miles Hall Crisis Call Center, signifies a positive shift in how mental health services are delivered.
Contra Costa County has been expanding their mobile mental health services through the “A3” program. This is a central hub, named after Miles, that sends out mobile crisis response teams as needed. We're thrill to announce that Contra Costa County has increased the hours of operation for this service to 24/7 as of December 1, 2023.
They have also expanded hiring and are constructing a dedicated building in Concord. While we are encouraged by CCC’s progress so far, there is still much to be done before the county realizes the name of their program--mental health services available “Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime”. The county is struggling with a staff shortage and needs to improve its response times to emergencies.
More Legislative Achievements
988 Trailer Bill: Anyone with MediCal is now entitled to 988 mobile crisis response.
AB 360: Spearheaded by the family of Angelo Quinto, passed into law. It prohibits coroners from citing the bogus term “excited delirium” as a cause of death.
AB 665 passed, allowing minors to access mental health treatment or counseling services without requiring the approval of the minor’s parent or guardian.
SB 417 was enacted, requiring information about 988 to be posted in gun stores. This bill is aimed to reduce high suicide rates associated with gun ownership.
As we approach the end of the year, our focus in 2024 turns towards preparing for the next legislative session. We will be identifying bills that align with our mission, especially those related to police reform, racial justice, and mental health.
Additionally, we will explore opportunities to enhance our advocacy and relationships with key stakeholders to set the stage for continued success.
We will continue to track the implementation of AB-988: The Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act, and hold local and state officials accountable over the coming year. We are monitoring OES's upcoming appointment of a 988 director, which is now almost a year overdue.
As we wrap up the year, we celebrate our successes, learn from our challenges, and set the stage for another year of fighting for families, communities, and people living with mental health challenges and facing racial injustices.