Suicide prevention bill passes House, but no money is allocated for it
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline bill went through several big changes during committee hearings before eventually passing the House floor. However, the trust that funds the bill lost all dollars allocated to it.
The 988 hotline offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained Wyoming based crisis counselors.
House Bill 65 left the house revenue committee with $40 million going to the 988 system trust fund. A trust fund is basically an account that would hold money only for the lifeline. The House debated for hours over multiple days about how effective the lifeline is and whether it needs the money for support or not. In the end, the chamber decided to strip all of that money for the trust fund. They pointed to the fact that the bill is funded for the next biennium by federal dollars.
Lawmakers say they would like to see how effective the hotline is before allocating money to the program. Rep. Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne) said still creating the trust fund even with no money is a compromise.
“We’re in a situation now if we eliminate the trust fund and we have a major nonprofit wanting to donate to this,” he said. “Without this we aren’t able to put that money into that account.”
The bill included language saying it is the lawmakers intent for the Wyoming Department of Health to include money for the program in its next budget request.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) introduced an amendment during the last reading of the bill on the House floor that would’ve added $4 million dollars to the lifeline.
“I think it's important to say, ‘Let's keep this going for three to four years and then we can assess where we’re at.’” Zwonitzer said.
However, that amendment was rejected. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.