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Governors Spotlight: Mental Illness, Teacher Shortages, Gas Vehicle Bans & More

September 02, 2022 (4 min read)

CA to Require Mentally Ill Homeless to Obtain Treatment

California lawmakers gave their final endorsement to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) proposal to establish a new program to direct persons suffering from severe mental illnesses into treatment even if it is against their will.

Newsom sponsored the Community Assistance Recovery and Empowerment Act (SB 1338) and is expected to quickly sign it into law.

Under that measure, counties will be required to create a new civil court – so called CARE Courts - that will process petitions brought by family, first responders or others on behalf of persons diagnosed with disorders like schizophrenia and who are homeless or in immediate danger of becoming homeless.

Judges will have the power to order people into treatment and require counties to provide them with mental health services.

Newsom hailed the law’s passage, calling it “a paradigm shift” and saying it “means hope for thousands of Californians suffering from severe forms of mental illness who too often languish on our streets without the treatment they desperately need and deserve.”

He cited the autonomy of those participating in the program, noting they will have a clinical team, an attorney and a volunteer supporter they can choose as their personal advocate to explain the options available and help make decisions.

The measure has drawn strong support from many of California’s larger cities, who welcome the additional assistance in trying to get the state’s estimated 151,000 homeless off the streets. According to state research, at least 23 percent of that population suffers from a severe mental disorder, while 17 percent have a chronic drug-abuse issue.

The law has not been as welcomed by counties, which contend the $63 million Newsom budgeted in the plan is inadequate to pay for establishing the new system.

It has also drawn criticism from some mental health experts, who argue that the state is already severely lacking in sufficient housing, treatment beds, and mental health workers to care for those who want it, much less those who the state might compel into the program.

“Unhoused Californians don’t need surveillance infrastructure that targets them. They need permanent supportive housing, community, purpose, and health care,” James Burch, deputy director of The Anti Police-Terror Project, told the Associated Press.

The state will implement the plan in two phases, with seven counties - Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and San Francisco – opening their CARE courts by Oct. 2023. The state’s remaining 51 counties will have until Dec. 1, 2024 to have their own systems in place. (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, ASSOCIATED PRESS, LOS ANGELES TIMES)

NV Gov Issues Emergency Order on Teacher Shortage

Faced with significant statewide shortages of teachers, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an emergency order that lowers the cost to obtain or renew a Silver State substitute teaching license. Previous to his directive, teaching licenses were $180 to first obtain and then $150 thereafter to renew. The order also extends some current provisional licenses by up to six months. (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, KTNV [LAS VEGAS])

MO Gov Shuts Down Contract Disclosure Site

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) has closed down a state website that allowed Show Me State residents to track who wins state contracts. Parson blamed the closure on HB 2400, the state’s new Personal Privacy Protection Act, which he signed in June.

The law was intended to shield nonprofits from having to disclose their donors to government agencies and allow for certain limited liability companies to contribute to candidates.

Rep Dan Houx (R), the bill’s original sponsor, expressed surprise at the closure, saying “that was definitely not the intent” of the law. (ST. LOUIS TODAY, COLUMBIA MISSOURIAN)

VA Gov Vows to Fight Gas Vehicle Ban

Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin (R) said last week he will fight to overturn an Old Dominion law requiring it to copy a new California law that will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

Virginia committed to adopting California’s emission standards under a bill [HB 1965 (2020)] signed into law in 2021 by former Gov. Ralph Northam (D). But Youngkin announced on Twitter last week that he will attempt to stop that from happening.

“I am already at work to prevent this ridiculous edict from being forced on Virginians,” he said in a statement. “California’s out-of-touch laws have no place in our Commonwealth.”

The Biden administration in March reversed a Trump administration decision stripping California of its longstanding authority to set its own tailpipe emissions standards. With that in mind, the California Air Resources Board officially adopted rules last week that require all new cars sold there by 2035 to be zero emissions.

If allowed to stand, several states could soon follow California’s lead. But that is not a certainty, as 17 GOP-led states have filed suit seeking to permanently overturn California’s waiver. (ASSOCIATED PRESS, NATIONAL REVIEW, ABC NEWS)

DE Gov Signs Literacy Bills

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed a trio of literacy bills last week, including one that requires students to participate in three universal reading screenings a year to identify potential reading deficiencies. Under HB 304, schools would be allowed to implement early intervention tactics as needed.

Carney also signed SB 4, which requires state education officials to maintain and publish a list of evidence-based, reading instruction curriculum for grades K through 3, and SB 195, which requires education officials to also develop and maintain evidence-based media literacy standards, including responsible and healthy online behavior, for use in grades K through 12. (DELAWARE PUBLIC MEDIA, WDEL [WILMINGTON])

 --Compiled by RICH EHISEN


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