Northwest NEWS

February 12, 2001

Business

Help needed on important legislation

by Rhonda McKim
   Help is needed before Feb. 27 from the public on important legislation.
   Safe School Bill SB 5528 and House Bill 1444
   Each school district must develop a policy of prohibiting bullying, intimidation or harassment of students on or adjacent to school property or at any school sponsored event, on school provided transportation, or at any official school bus stop.
   These policies would have to include standards for reporting, investigating and responding to incidents. Training for staff and developing ways to discuss this issue with kids is included.
   Mental Health Insurance Coverage for Kids SB 5211 and House Bill 1080
   This bill would require insurance companies to cover mental health services for kids at the same levels that they provide other health care services coverage.
   Currently most insurance coverage doesn't include mental health services or have greatly reduced benefits.
   This bill would allow kids access to much needed services. Of Washington's 1.5 million kids, 92.5 percent have some form of private health insurance.
   Washington State Youth Suicide Prevention Program Funding
   Funding to continue the work of the Program is included in both the Governor's and the Dept. of Health Budget for the next biennium. We need to urge support of the funding to continue at the current budget level.
   This program provides training, public education and enhancement of crisis response.
   What Can You Do?
   CALL YOUR LEGISLATOR. You can call and leave a message on the Hotline (free) 1-800-562-6000 or call their offices directly.
   WRITE A LETTER. State Reps. P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504-0600;
   State Senators P.O. Box 40482, Olympia, WA 98504-0482.
   For complete text of bills, visit www.leg.wa.gov or call the Bill Room at (360) 786-7573.
   Rhonda McKim is the president of the Northshore PTA Council.