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Mental health task force bill sees support in Legislature introduction

If the bill is signed into law, the task force would be allowed to operate up until Dec. 31, 2024.

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming legislators are pushing to continue funding a task force geared toward addressing mental health and vulnerable adults. On Thursday, a bill that would allow this team to carry on survived its introduction in the state’s Legislature.

HB0169 received broad support at the Wyoming Capitol Building on Thursday, as 43 representatives voted in favor of it while 18 didn’t. The legislation would extend the term for the Mental Health & Vulnerable Adult Task Force, which was established in 2023. If passed, the bill would allow the task force to function up until Dec. 31, 2024.

The purpose of the task force is to consider methods for addressing mental health issues and develop programs that meet the needs of at-risk adults and individuals with behavioral health challenges. The team reports to Gov. Mark Gordon and offers recommendations for legislation.

The bill is now in the hands of the Appropriations Committee, which is headed by Senator Tara Nethercott and Representative Bob Nicholas, who voted in favor of continuing the task force.

The 11-person task force comprises a mix of legislators and leaders from varying state agencies. Three members from both the Senate and House of Representatives serve on the team. The members are:

  • Fred Baldwin, senator from District 14
  • Eric Barlow, senator from District 23
  • Tara Nethercott, senator from District 4
  • Lloyd Larsen, representative from District 54
  • Albert Sommers, representative from District 20
  • Dan Zwonitzer, representative from District 43
  • Stefan Johansson, director of Wyoming Department of Health or a designee
  • Korin Schmidt, director of Wyoming Department of Family Services or a designee
  • Dan Shannon, director of Wyoming Department of Corrections or a designee
  • Megan Degenfelder, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction or a designee
  • A non-voting member of the judicial branch appointed by the Supreme Court

Over the past year, Wyoming officials have voiced their commitment to boost mental health–related initiatives. In January, Gov. Mark Gordon and representatives with the mental health task force held a public town hall inside the Wyoming Capitol Building. The governor said he aims to increase support for healthcare workers, reduce the state’s suicide rate, improve access to care and foster meaningful discourse around the topic of mental health.

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