Washington State House Democrats


LEGISLATIVE NEWS: House Passes Bill Empowering Crisis Responders, Supporting the 988 Lifeline, and Protecting Vulnerable Individuals

OLYMPIA – As the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline gains momentum, Washington State is taking a crucial step to support its success with House passage of House Bill 2088. Introduced by Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) who in 2021 also introduced and passed HB 1477 establishing the 988 lifeline. This year’s legislation strengthens this vital safety by extending liability protections to mobile rapid response crisis teams, community-based crisis teams, and other responders.

While most 988 calls are resolved over the phone, some situations require in-person intervention. HB 2088 ensures a seamless response by empowering trained crisis responders to provide on-site de-escalation, stabilization, and resource connection directly to individuals in need. This creates a viable alternative to police intervention, preventing unnecessary escalation and connecting individuals with appropriate mental health services.

Similar to protections already afforded to 988 hotline staff and emergency medical personnel, HB 2088 safeguards crisis responders from civil liability while performing their duties under good faith. This crucial legal protection allows responders to confidently perform their jobs, knowing they are shielded from undue risk while navigating volatile situations.

By addressing liability concerns, the bill encourages more cities and communities to establish or expand mobile crisis response programs, making these essential services more accessible across the state.

“Ensuring safe and effective interventions for individuals experiencing behavioral health crises is critical to an effective 988 system,” said Rep. Orwall. “This removes a major barrier to program expansion and ensures more people get the help they need, when they need it.”

House Bill 2088 now advances to the Senate for further consideration. Learn more here or by clicking on the video below.