by David Safier
Reps. Victoria Steele (D, LD-9) and Ethan Orr (R, LD-9) cosponsored HB 2570, which increases the funding for mental health first aid training. Victoria emailed me to say it got a unanimous vote from the House Appropriations Committee — 10-0, 1 absent — and is headed for the Rules Committee. It still has a long road ahead of it, but this is a very promising start. In theory, a bill like this should have no problem being passed and signed by the Governor. One thing Ds and Rs seem to agree on these days is that we're not doing enough to recognize the symptoms of mental health or giving people needed help. But theory isn't practice, especially in these hyper-partisan days, and especially when there's a price tag involved.
It's encouraging to see Steele and Orr, representing the same LD from different parties, joining together to sponsor a bill. A few weeks back, Steele, Orr and Senator Steve Farley held a forum in LD-9. The room was pretty much equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. Amazingly, everyone had their say, asked questions and listened to the legislators' thoughtful answers. People spoke with passion, but there was no shouting, cheering or booing. Disagreement remained, but everyone knew a bit more about what the other side was thinking, and, I hope, had a sense that a forum is a good place to express feelings and ideas and learn what our elected representatives are doing in Phoenix.