ACMI has a proud history of advocacy to protect the rights of those living with SMI and to expand innovative services, housing, and inpatient and outpatient treatment options for these individuals.   A robust, evolving system of care is in the interest of patients, families, and society. A stronger care system for those living with SMI promotes public health and safety. ACMI strives to assure that such a system of care exists in Arizona and that it operates transparently, is accountable to taxpayers, and is respectful of patients and families.  

ACMI Board Members are active policy advocates. Every member of ACMI’s Board has testified to committees at the Arizona legislature …. often remaining at the Capitol late at night to cover hearings. ACMI Board Members draft bills “from scratch” and assist others — on a bipartisan basis — in drafting and revising bills.   ACMI Board Members regularly meet with the leadership of Arizona’s legislature, the governor’s office, the executive branch, and regulatory agencies. ACMI successfully advocates growth and change in Arizona’s system of care through relationships, technical legal work, and policy analysis.

This year, the Arizona legislature passed — and Governor Ducey signed — six important bills that improved multiple aspects of Arizona’s SMI system of care. These change aspects of how the SMI system functions daily. For example, these bills strengthen patient privacy and confidentiality. They expand transportation options for individuals requiring screening and evaluation and create new treatment options for incompetent/non-restorable individuals. Most impressive, these bills were amended several times to reflect informed analysis and compromise among stakeholders, often from across the state. 

Five of this year’s mental health bills were sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto, who has long been Arizona’s strongest legislator in mental health.   In response to growing publicity and concerns about the quality of care and safety at the Arizona State Hospital, in 2022, Karen Fann, President of the Senate,  introduced a “leadership” bill to improve the Arizona State Hospital administratively. 

Ultimately, and reflecting growing acknowledgment of the importance of mental health to public health and safety, there were no “close” votes on any of the SMI bills introduced in 2022. Some bills passed unanimously. The Republican (Majority) and Democrat (Minority) caucuses recommended each bill as a “do pass.”   Governor Doug Ducey promptly signed all.   As the summer of 2022 draws to an end, ACMI is planning its legislative priorities and agenda for 2023.   We are exceedingly pleased with the results in 2022; however, much more must be done. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”  

                                                Holly Gieszl and Josh Mozell

                                                On behalf of the ACMI Board of Directors



Adopted from Summary by Deborah Geesling, P82 Project Restoration

And Former ACMI Board Member

SB1114. Court-Ordered Treatment; Case Records; Confidentiality.

Prime Sponsor: Senator Nancy Barto.

Protects privacy of individuals receiving court-ordered treatment (COT) by sealing court records. Modifies application requirements for emergency admissions for court-ordered evaluation. Outlines circumstances in which courts have concurrent jurisdiction over a patient subject to court-ordered treatment.

SB1210. Mentally Ill; Transportation; Evaluation; Treatment; Law Enforcement; Title.                                                   

Prime Sponsor: Senator Nancy Barto.

Allows a court, admitting officer, mental health treatment agency or evaluation agency to authorize apprehension and transportation of a patient to an evaluation agency by an authorized transporter instead of law enforcement. Helps assure transport of individuals with SMI in a more humane, less traumatizing, and potentially less expensive way. Permits law enforcement to focus more on their primary jobs, not transporting individuals with SMI unless necessary for safety. Establishes a Study Committee on Alternative Behavioral Health Transportation.

SB1310. Dangerous; Incompetent Person; Evaluation; Commitment. 

Prime Sponsor: Senator Nancy Barto.

Establishes procedures regarding detainment, commitment, conditional release, and discharge of criminal defendants deemed incompetent, non-restorable, and dangerous. Outlines requirements for treatment of committed defendants. Requires a court to admit individuals who are not-competent, not-restorable, and dangerous into a secure residential behavioral health facility.

SB 1392. State Hospital; Placement; Court-Ordered Treatment.

Prime Sponsor: Nancy Barto

Removes red tape when patients need a higher level of care at the State Hospital. Allows medical director of local mental health treatment agency that is assigned to supervise and administer patients’ treatment program to request the court to order a patient placed in the Arizona State Hospital (ASH).

SB1444. State Hospital; Administration; Oversight. 

Prime Sponsor: Senator Karen Fann.

Reforms Prohibits administration and employees of the Arizona State Hospital (ASH) from retaliating against a patient due to family participation in Arizona State Hospital Independent Oversight Committee (ASH-IOC) meetings. Requires the ASH CEO/Superintendent and CMO to attend and participate in ASH-IOC meetings. Directs ASH administration to develop and implement an innovative clinical improvement and human resources development plan. Modifies membership and duties of the Joint Legislative Psychiatric Hospital Review Council (Council).

SB1651. Behavioral Health Expenditures; Behavioral Health Services; Public health &  Safety; Serious Mental Illness; AHCCCS Annual Report. 

Prime Sponsor: Senator Nancy Barto.

Requires Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to annually report outlined statistical information relating to expenditures, services, and outcomes of services provided to individuals living with SMI. Provides baseline and provisions for longitudinal analysis.