Addressing Washington's mental health and homelessness crisis

Legislative update from Olympia

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news conference

Click above to watch the Senate Republican news conference on mental health and homelessness

Dear Neighbor,


Recently the Legislature and media have been talking a lot about homelessness, drug use and mental health issues. This has been one of my top priorities this legislative session, and I want to update you on some of the things lawmakers have been doing in Olympia.

Last Friday, I participated in a news conference with fellow Senate Republicans as we discussed the urgency of addressing our state’s homeless and drug epidemic. (Click above to watch the entire media availability). This is not just a big-city problem – we are seeing this affect families and communities all across our state. I mentioned the city of Arlington at the news conference; they are a great example of city leaders helping and holding accountable their community members who are homeless and/or using opioids. Their program is working and they are seeing the number of homeless encampments and individuals struggling with drug addiction decline. You can learn more about what they’re doing here.

Behavioral health has been a top priority of the Legislature and we’ve been doing great bipartisan work to introduce legislation that would put resources back into our communities for those who need it most.

One bill moving forward, Senate Bill 5720, would allow parents to get involved in their children’s treatment if they are in serious harm and disabled under the adult and minor Involuntary Treatment Act.

Another good bill still moving, Senate Bill 5516, would create a behavioral health innovation and integration campus with the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Unfortunately several other good bills that could empower parents of minor children and allow guardianship powers over adults in crisis did not make it through the legislature this session. I see these bill as good starting points for the 2020 legislative session.

Another way we are looking at these issues is by hearing from the people serving those in need in our communities. Just this week, in a joint hearing of the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability Committee and Behavioral Health Subcommittee, members heard from city leaders as they shared what’s working and what isn’t in their communities. You can watch the hearing here.

I am very proud of the work we’ve been doing this legislative session, but I believe we have a lot more to do and need to continue to make behavioral health treatment a priority.




In the News

Recently I was featured on TVW’s Inside Olympia along with Senator Wellman to talk about K-12 policy and budget issues, and I was interviewed on Seattle Channel to talk about mental health bills going through the legislature.

To watch the TVW interview, click here.

To watch the Seattle Channel interview, click here.

Fun fact…

Each legislative update will highlight a fun fact about your 39th Legislative District State Senator!

Senator Keith Wagoner….

  • Often hitchhiked his way to college at Washington State University.
March 29, 2019


Watch my latest video update!

In this video update, I talk about my recent town hall and how you can get involved in the legislative process!


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Phone: (360) 786-7676