Council Schedule Highlights Week of February 17th, 2020

Council Schedule Highlights Week of February 17th, 2020

– Derek Young, Pierce County Council

Tuesday, February 18th, 2019

9:30 am Human Services Committee

Connie Ladenburg, Chair
Derek Young, Vice-Chair
Dave Morell
Douglas G. Richardson
Marty Campbell

Regularly scheduled meetings are broadcast live and replayed on channel 22 (Comcast and Click! Network) and channel 20 (Rainier Connect). Access meeting materials at

Proposal №2020–24, Sales and Use Tax for Behavioral Health Services and Therapeutic Courts — Behavioral Health Coordinating Commission Created
Sponsored by: Councilmembers Connie Ladenburg, Derek Young, and Marty Campbell

In 2005, after the federal government adopted savage cuts to an already weak behavioral health system, the state Legislature passed a bipartisan bill authorizing counties to adopt a 1/10th of 1% sales tax for behavioral health services. Since that time, 24 of Washington’s 39 counties and the City of Tacoma have passed the tax.

The list includes every urban county and all of Western Washington. All, that is, except for Pierce County.

According to data from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Pierce County lags behind our peers in most behavioral health metrics, including hospitalizations, substance use morbidity and mortality, and suicide. These crises add considerable costs to the system that earlier intervention would reduce.

That’s why this week Councilmembers Connie Ladenburg, Marty Campbell and I introduced a bill that adopts the tax and policies that:

  • Establishes a county­wide coordinating body to provide oversight and pursue sustainable funding opportunities;
  • Invests in education, early intervention, and prevention;
  • Targets funds to reduce emergency department and first responder utilization, inpatient care, and incarceration;
  • Provides support, training, and resources to first responders and criminal justice professionals assisting people in crisis;
  • Appropriates funds county-wide to ensure all Pierce County residents have access to treatment;
  • Increases support for community-based care;
  • Fosters a network of care providers to meet the needs of veterans and service members;
  • Enhances patient engagement, activation, and self-management;

As co-chair of our county association’s Legislative Steering Committee, I frequently meet with peers from around the state. They’re often puzzled as to how we pay for behavioral health services without the 1/10th of 1%. My response is that sadly, we don’t provide much in the way of those services. That’s one reason our outcomes tend to be worse than our peers.

Here’s what Commissioner French from Spokane told Matt Driscoll at the TNT:

“‘I hate to sound pious on this, but the bottom line is that without these funds, I’m going to be putting people in jail who will not have a better life because they’re in jail. To put someone in jail because they’ve got a mental health issue is just cruel,’ French continued.

‘Quite frankly,’ he added, ‘I don’t know how we would be able to deliver services without the tax.’”

Pierce County’s Charter requires a supermajority of the Council to pass (in 2016, we had a 4–3 vote that failed for this reason). I encourage you to read more on the background of the issue and bill on this page and write to the Council here.

Proposal No. R2020–13, Office of Behavioral Health Oversight

Sponsored by: Councilmembers Connie Ladenburg, Derek Young, and Marty Campbell

A companion of the behavioral health tax bill, this proposal would create a position within the Council research staff to track and analyze the efficacy of programs funded by the tax. Usually, a function of the executive branch, the idea is to keep a closer eye on this fund to help build trust among more skeptical members. Eventually, I see this function transitioning to the Human Services Department.

3:00 pm Council Meeting

Regularly scheduled meetings are broadcast live and replayed on channel 22 (Comcast and Click! Network) and channel 20 (Rainier Connect). Access meeting materials at

Proposal №2019–97s, Affordable Housing Incentives
Sponsored by: Councilmembers Derek Young, Marty Campbell, and Connie Ladenburg

We hired a consultant to review the County’s affordable housing incentives first adopted in 2010. The result was pretty grim; only four projects to date have used the incentives and delivered housing to the 80% area median income target. This bill addresses the consultant’s recommendations:

  • Eliminate limitations to fee waiver program
  • Broaden density incentives
  • More infill incentives
  • Reducing parking requirements near transit

This bill is not the totality of the actions I’m planning to take over the next year on housing, but it does plug one hole.

Friday, February 21st, 2019

9:00 am Opioid Summit

This will be our third Pierce County Opioid Summit and is the first time we had to shut down registration early after running over capacity at 225 people. It’s incredible to see so many people dedicated to stopping the epidemic.

This year we have some successes to celebrate with several major initiatives underway. We also want to discuss the proposals the Opioid Task Force is recommending and actions that we can take to move the work forward.

We’re working on a live stream, and we’ll post information on that when it becomes available.

My Weekly Calendar

A couple of years ago we got a request for my forward-looking calendar. Rather than have staff waste their time on public record requests, I decided to publish screenshots. Now I’m adding a link to the calendar as well. If you have questions, feel free to call. Keep in mind, my schedule isn’t static. Things will get added, deleted, changed, etc. There are conflicts that I have to pick between. But if people want to see where I’m at and who I meet with, that’s fine by me.