Loading articles...

The Latest: Inslee: Mental health system needs reform

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Latest on Gov. Jay Inslee’s State of the State address (all times local):

12:39 p.m.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says that the state needs to transform the state’s behavioural health system from one “that responds to crisis to one that helps people before they reach crisis.”

In his annual State of the State address, Inslee said that the state must expand the professional workforce in behavioural health, and must find room for patients at community-based facilities.

He said he’s pursuing a new partnership with the University of Washington to create a teaching hospital to serve patients and train providers.

Mental health reform and funding is an area that the governor and lawmakers in both parties have said needs to be a top priority this year. That includes addressing concerns at Western State Hospital, an 850-plus bed facility in Lakewood that has been plagued with problems and has lost its certification by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and federal funding after it repeatedly failed health and safety inspections.


12:36 p.m.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state must make “unprecedented investments” to save the ailing orca population.

Inslee cited the case of a mother orca who triggered international sympathy last summer when she kept the body of her dead calf afloat in waters for 17 days. With the recent discovery of a new orca calf, the population has increased to 75, but it’s still the lowest number since the 1970s. Two other orcas are known to be sick, and researchers fear they could die within months.

The southern resident population of orcas that live in the waters between Washington state and Canada differ from some of the other orca populations in eating primarily salmon, rather than seals or other marine mammals.

Inslee said that the actions that need to be taken to “restore the balance of the ecosystem” that supports the orcas include increasing salmon stocks, fixing culverts and decreasing vessel traffic.


12:27 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee told a joint session of the Washington Legislature that more action needs to be taken by the state to address “the imminent threat of climate change.”

Inslee, who is mulling a possible 2020 presidential bid, highlighted climate Tuesday as his top issue in his annual State of the State address to lawmakers who this week started their 105-day legislative session.

In his speech, he cited concerns about low snowpack, ocean temperatures and last year’s wildfires that impacted air quality in the state.

He called on lawmakers to pass a proposal to require utilities to provide carbon-free electricity by 2045. Another major effort he called for in his speech is a measure to implement a clean fuel standard that requires fuel producers and importers to reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation fuels.

The Associated Press