Governor Newsom’s Mental Health Services Act Reform Passes Key Committee

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Momentum builds for Governor Newsom’s proposed legislative package transforming and modernizing the state’s mental health care system to help more Californians get the support and care they need.

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Assembly Health Committee voted overwhelmingly to pass Governor Newsom’s legislation modernizing the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), Senate Bill 326 authored by Senator Susan Eggman (D-Stockton).

“Californians know the urgency needed to address the crises our state and our country are facing, from opioids to mental health to homelessness. The status quo is simply unacceptable,” said Governor Newsom. “This reform will ensure our state has a true mental health care system that has real accountability so people can get help.”

The Assembly Health Committee voted 11 – 0 to pass the bill, moving the bill to the next step in the legislative process. This marks the first vote on SB 326, one of the bills in Governor Newsom’s two-bill legislative package to transform California’s mental health and substance use disorder services system to ensure the needs of Californians are met for years to come.

WHAT COMES NEXT: Governor Newsom’s mental health legislative package is composed of two bills: SB 326 (Eggman) modernizes the MHSA and AB 531 (Irwin) proposes a $4.68 billion bond to build new supportive housing and community-based treatment settings to meet the state’s need. SB 326 will go to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee next, and AB 531 is in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

KEY SUPPORT: In case you missed it, over 100 letters (more than 50 from mayors across California) have been submitted in support of Governor Newsom’s legislative package to transform and modernize the state’s mental health services system (SB 326) and accompanying bond (AB 531) that builds much needed new behavioral health beds and units. This broad local support from mayors and county officials continues the momentum for this much needed legislative package – joining key advocacy organizations in support and last week’s positive response from kids and youth groups to the updated legislative package.

  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Hahn: “The Governor is leading the charge on building more housing for the many thousands of people who are struggling with mental illness and addiction on our streets. This is a challenge we are confronted with every day here in LA County and I support this new effort to use our funding more effectively.”

  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Solis: “When it comes to mental health, there is no recovery without housing. The first step to stability is getting people indoors where they are in a safe and stable environment to facilitate healing and recuperation. We have long known that we need greater flexibility to use critical Mental Health Services Act dollars to better address those most vulnerable, and these reforms will bring more people into housing, where they can get connected to the services they need. I applaud Governor Newsom’s willingness to take on this humanitarian crisis head on, and thank him for his continued partnership in working with the County to meet the needs of our residents who need it most.”

  • San Diego County Chair Nora Vargas: “California is facing a confluence of crises – homelessness, serious mental illness, and substance use disorders – and this moment demands bold and comprehensive action. Senate Bill 326 and Assembly Bill 531 will help transform the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), to provide care to Californians of all ages with serious mental health and substance use disorders.”

  • San Francisco County Supervisor Rafael Mandelman: “Governor Newsom’s proposals would infuse long overdue capital and operating dollars into California’s inadequate continuum of behavioral health care. These investments begin to make good on the decades-deferred promise of community mental health care for the State’s most vulnerable residents.”

  • Sonoma County Supervisor Gore: “I write this letter to applaud Governor Newsom’s bold proposals to reform the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) and create a bond to fund new behavioral health treatment and residential settings. For more than 50 years, California’s leaders have not had the tools needed to provide the right mixture of services and housing to improve the lives of our houseless residents. However, under Governor Newsom’s leadership, we are finally achieving demonstrable progress.”

  • Big 13 Mayors: “This legislation would expand eligible services to include treatment for those with substance use disorders, in addition to care for the most seriously mentally ill. Barriers to addressing issues of addiction in our cities will be removed. Lastly, the focus on full service partnerships and prioritization of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and struggling with behavioral health issues will help our cities implement meaningful long term progress to reduce homelessness.”

  • League of California Cities: “Cities recognize that for unsheltered individuals with severe behavioral health needs, access to a comprehensive care system can be essential to addressing their homelessness. That is why Cal Cities is eager to support these measures, as they take a comprehensive look at our existing behavioral health system and make targeted improvements.”

In addition, the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution in support of Governor Newsom’s mental health reform legislative package.

Mayors from the following cities, in addition to the Big 13, have voiced support: Alameda, Albany, Beverly Hills, Chico, Coachella, Compton, El Cajon, El Monte, Fontana, Foster City, Fountain Valley, Fowler, Fullerton, Half Moon Bay, Hayward, Hercules, Lake Elsinore, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Lindsay, Livermore, Menifee, Menlo Park, Monterey, Moreno Valley, Newark, Paramount, Parlier, Perris, Redwood City, Rialto, Salinas, San Fernando, San Leandro, San Rafael, Santa Monica, Sausalito, Temecula, Tracy, West Hollywood.