Legislation would protect vulnerable Minnesotans and help improve responses to mental health crises
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Legislation that would improve the civil commitment process and protect vulnerable Minnesotans was introduced by Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) Thursday. The proposal is a step forward in ensuring people in crisis receive the care and support they need, said Sen. Latz.
“We want all Minnesotans to get the proper care and response when they are experiencing a mental health crisis, but we have not provided the resources to make sure that happens,” said Sen. Latz. “We already have legislation in statute to support our friends and neighbors in crisis, but without state funding, too many Minnesotans are still at risk. This bill puts the resources we need forward to ensure that Minnesotans receive the care they need and will help keep them safe.”
The proposal, SF 3203, builds on a law passed in 2020, that provided an “engagement” component to our civil commitment statute, which allows families and mental health professionals to seek help for people with serious mental illnesses who do not recognize they are sick and won’t accept help. That law required counties to opt-in to this model, but SF 2909 would provide the funding and state support necessary to make it a reality in counties across Minnesota.
The legislation creates a Civil Commitment Coordinating Division within the Attorney General’s Office led by a civil commitment coordinator. The appointee of this position would maintain a Civil Commitment Advisory Committee, membership of which would include state officials and civilian appointees. This committee would be tasked with providing guidance and support regarding engagement services, outpatient civil commitment, and provisional discharge.
Funding for the bill would go to diversion study grants and engagement services, outpatient civil commitment, and provisional discharge grants. The grants would fund studies on how people with a mental illness, developmental disability, or people with a substance use disorder encounter the local criminal justice system and would provide supplemental funding to counties to expand the county’s capacity to provide engagement services.
More information is available in a Star Tribune Commentary written jointly between Senator Latz, Mindy Greiling, and Norman Orenstein.