IN THE NEWS: Bill balances desires of adoptees, birth parents

In 2012, Orwall and Rivers discovered during a legislative hearing that they were on opposite sides of the disclosure issue. They then teamed up on a compromise bill, but their efforts hit a block in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, where then-chairman Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, refused to give the House bill a hearing. Sen. Hargrove had concerns that parents relinquishing children for adoption before 1993 believed records would be permanently sealed. A year later, Hargrove moved to serve as budget lead for Senate Democrats, and Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, took over as human services chairman. Carrell had a different view and sponsored his own bill to open adoption records. After Carrell became ill, Rivers said she took up the cause in the Senate. Read the full story in the Tacoma News Tribune.

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Governor signs Carrell bills to protect whistleblowers, improve mental-health system and enhance privacy

Gov. Jay Inslee has signed several landmark bills sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, within the past week. One is designed to protect public-employee whistleblowers from retaliation, another will begin the process of reforming the state’s mental-health system and a third will help protect the privacy of those who search state-licensing records. Senate Bill 5182 – signed Tuesdsay – prohibits the state Department of Licensing from disclosing personal information about someone who requests license-related information, beyond whether the requesting party is an attorney or private investigator. State law now allows people to learn more detail about those who have requested information about them; Carrell says that can be dangerous for private investigators and attorneys who have legitimate reasons for accessing the information since the people being investigated are often felons who do not want to be found. Because many private investigators and attorneys work out of their homes, a person upset about being investigated or sued could obtain the private investigator’s or attorney’s home address, presenting serious safety concerns.

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SEATTLE TIMES: Notable gains on mental health in state Legislature

In a legislative session notable for what did not get done, lawmakers left Olympia last week having passed a bipartisan package of mental-health bills notable for their scope. The most fundamental reform comes thanks to state Sen. Mike Carrell, the Lakewood Republican who became sick during the session. Carrell’s measure, Senate Bill 5732, requires, for the first time, common standards and outcome measurements across the fractured county-based outpatient mental-health system. This accountability is welcome and overdue.

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With no budget, special session looms

The deadline for the Washington State Legislature to end its business and go home was Sunday, however since no budget agreement could be reached in time, taxpayers will now be forced to foot the bill for yet another special session (which seems to be developing into an annual occurrence in Olympia). Our Majority Coalition Caucus has remained committed to its three founding principles: creating jobs, improving education and passing a sustainable, no-new-taxes budget. I’m confident that my colleagues in the Senate are adhering to that position, as evidenced by the Senate’s bipartisan budget proposal that was approved 30-18 with nine members of the minority party voting in favor of it.

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