A bill that would make it easier for mental health professionals to report possible school threats was passed 51-12 by the House Tuesday.
The measure, House Bill 16-1063, has drawn close attention because of concerns about how to balance client confidentiality and school safety.
Those concerns surfaced again Tuesday during unusually lengthy discussion before the final vote.
“This goes straight to the heart of mental health practice,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont. He supported the bill but urged the Senate to further refine the measure.
“This bill is designed to hit the sweet spot,” said prime sponsor Rep. Michael Foote, D-Lafayette.
Foote, a Boulder deputy district attorney, worked closely with mental health professionals and interest groups to craft the current version of the bill.
The bill would allow licensed mental health professionals to disclose “articulable and significant” threats against schools to administrators and police. Therapists and counselors wouldn’t be required to disclose such threats, but those who do would be protected from lawsuits. Current law requires mental health professionals to report “imminent” school threats.
Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, noted reports about the 2013 Arapahoe High School shooting cited lack of communication among school staff as a problem.
“This is exactly the kind of bill we need to increase safety in our schools,” Willett said.