Recognition of tribal involuntary commitment orders clears second round

A proposal meant to facilitate cooperation between tribal, state and local authorities regarding involuntary commitment of tribal members was amended and advanced from select file March 25.

Sen. Jane Raybould
Sen. Jane Raybould

LB1288, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Jane Raybould, would require state and local authorities to recognize tribal hold orders, commitment orders and emergency protective custody orders issued for residents of Indian country, as defined by federal law.

The bill also would allow for transportation of persons civilly committed under tribal law and provide for reimbursement of treatment and transportation costs by the tribe.

Thurston Sen. Joni Albrecht, whose legislative district includes the Winnebago and Omaha reservations, opposed the bill. She offered and later withdrew a motion to bracket LB1288 until April 18.

Albrecht said not all stakeholders were consulted on the proposal and that it would have unintended consequences for tribes, counties and law enforcement. She said the problem the bill is focused on should be addressed by the federal government, not state lawmakers.

Raybould opposed the bracket motion. She said tribal leaders indicated that their top policy concern is that law enforcement and treatment facilities currently are not recognizing hold orders for tribal members who are experiencing a mental health crisis when those orders are issued by tribal judges.

She said she worked on the bill with tribal leaders, experts in tribal law, the courts and the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Raybould offered an amendment that would reiterate that LB1288 applies only to tribal members and would strike a provision requiring tribal consent to discharge or transfer an individual who is subject to the bill’s provisions. The amendment instead would require that a tribe simply be notified of any such action.

“This only applies to a small number of people in need of help who refuse it voluntarily,” Raybould said. “We are talking about individuals who are at risk of harm to themselves or others.”

Finally, the amendment would change the bill’s operative date to Oct. 1. Raybould said that change would allow time for tribes and counties to negotiate other methods of addressing the issue if they choose to do so.

Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon supported the bill and the amendment. Tribal members need services, he said, and lawmakers need to offer solutions in the near term, even if they are imperfect.

“This is something that we have to take action on to fix,” Brewer said. “It’s a real problem.”

The Raybould amendment failed on the first vote 22-0. Twenty-five votes were needed. A motion to reconsider that vote was successful and the amendment was adopted on a second vote of 28-1.

Omaha Sen. Terrell McKinney then offered an amendment, adopted 35-0, to add provisions of his LB923. The provisions would add a tribal enrollment card as a valid form of proof of identification and age for the purchase of alcohol and for an application for a handgun transfer certificate or a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

An amendment offered by Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue to include provisions of her LB911, which would require DHHS to keep records of Indian Child Welfare Act cases and allow for data analysis, failed on a vote of 23-0.

Lawmakers advanced LB1288 to final reading by voice vote.

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