State Assembly Passes Bill To Extend Mental Health Law Until 2017

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On Thursday, the California Assembly voted 65-3 to pass a bill (AB 1569), by Assembly member Mike Allen (D-Santa Rosa), that would extend until 2017 a law that allows courts to mandate treatment for residents with severe mental health conditions and a history of violence or hospitalization, AP/U-T San Diego reports.

The bill now moves to the Senate (Dreier, AP/U-T San Diego, 5/3).

Background on the Law

Laura's Law -- passed in 2002 -- affects people with mental illnesses who do not realize they require care (California Healthline, 3/19).

California's counties are allowed to decide whether to implement the law, but only Nevada County has done so. Counties are restricted in how they can fund the law and are not able to use money from voluntary programs.

Opposition to Law's Extension

Some lawmakers argue that compulsory mental health treatment is counterproductive and recalls a time when people with mental health conditions were kept in asylums.

Assembly member Wesley Chesbro (D-Santa Rosa) said Laura's Law enforces a false notion that people with mental illnesses are a danger to society.

Civil rights and disability rights groups also oppose the law (AP/U-T San Diego, 5/3).


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