Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Judiciary Committee

HB 2793

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Title: An act relating to providing for suicide awareness and prevention education for safer homes.

Brief Description: Providing for suicide awareness and prevention education for safer homes.

Sponsors: Representatives Orwall, Blake, Kretz, Sullivan, Cody, Jinkins, Kagi, Goodman, Ormsby, Tharinger, Rossetti and Reykdal.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Establishes a Safe Homes Task Force to develop suicide awareness and prevention education messages and training and implement advocacy efforts with key stakeholders to pair suicide prevention training with distribution of devices for safe storage of lethal means.

  • Creates a Safe Homes Project to certify firearms dealers that meet specified requirements as Safe Homes Partners, and establishes a business and occupation tax credit for firearms dealers who are certified as Safe Homes Partners.

  • Requires licensed pharmacists to complete a one-time training on suicide assessment, treatment, and management.

Hearing Date: 1/26/16

Staff: Edie Adams (786-7180).


The Department of Health (DOH) has developed a statewide suicide prevention plan (Plan) containing goals and recommendations for policy, system change, and community action to reduce suicides. The Plan includes among its core principles that suicide is a preventable public health problem and that everyone has a role in suicide prevention. The Plan contains numerous recommendations, including: engaging communities in suicide prevention through awareness programs; improving and expanding suicide assessment, treatment, and management for health professionals; and supporting legislation, technology, and public education to reduce access by people in crisis to lethal means, including firearms and medications.

Suicide Assessment, Treatment and Management Training.

Certain licensed health professionals are required to complete training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management. Some of these professionals, like licensed social workers and psychologists, must complete the training every six years. Other professionals, like physicians, nurses, and physician assistants, only need to complete the training once. The training must be at least six hours in length, unless only screening and referral elements are appropriate for the professional's scope of practice, in which case the training only needs to be at least three hours in length.

Beginning January 1, 2017, the training must meet minimum standards adopted by the DOH in rule. The standards for six-hour trainings must require content specific to veterans and the assessment of issues related to imminent harm via lethal means or self-injurious behaviors.

Firearms Safety and Hunter Education.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is responsible for producing a firearms pamphlet that covers issues of firearms safety, the legal limits of firearms use, and information on firearms laws and regulations. This pamphlet is provided to the Department of Licensing for distribution to firearms dealers and persons authorized to issue concealed pistol licenses. Firearms dealers are required to give a copy of the pamphlet to firearms purchasers.

The WDFW also is responsible for the operation of a statewide hunter education program that must be completed by applicants for a state hunting license that are age 41 or younger. Hunter education courses are taught by volunteers that are trained and certified by the WDFW. The hunter education program consists of at least 10 hours of instruction in safety, conservation, sportsmanship, and firearm handling. The firearms pamphlet may be used in the hunter education program.

Business and Occupation Tax.

Washington's major business tax is the business and occupation (B&O) tax.  The B&O tax is imposed on the gross receipts of business activities conducted within the state, without any deduction for the costs of doing business.  The tax is imposed on the gross receipts from all business activities conducted within the state.  Revenues are deposited in the State General Fund.  There are several rate categories, and a business may be subject to more than one B&O tax rate, depending on the types of activities conducted.  Current law authorizes multiple exemptions, deductions, and credits to reduce the B&O tax liability for specific taxpayers and business industries.

Summary of Bill:

Safe Homes Task Force.

A Safe Homes Task Force (Task Force) is created to raise public awareness and increase suicide prevention education among partners in key positions to prevent suicides. The Task Force consists of a variety of stakeholders, including the DOH, representatives of suicide prevention organizations, the firearms industry and firearms rights organizations, individuals who have experienced suicide loss or survived suicide attempts, pharmacists and pharmacy organizations, law enforcement, the WDFW, and others. Task Force membership is divided into a Suicide Prevention and Firearms Subcommittee and a Suicide Prevention and Pharmacy Subcommittee.

The Task Force is administered and staffed by Forefront at the University of Washington and its tasks include:

The Task Force must annually report on its progress to the Legislature beginning December 1, 2016. The final report of the Task Force must include the findings of the suicide awareness and prevention pilot program and recommendations on possible continuation of the program.

By July 1, 2017, the WDFW must update the firearms pamphlet with suicide prevention messaging developed by the Task Force.

Safe Homes Project.

The DOH is required to develop and administer a Safe Homes Project (Project) to provide financial incentives to firearms dealers to encourage participation in a program to implement suicide prevention strategies. The DOH must consult with the Task Force in developing Project requirements. The Project will provide a Safe Homes Partner certification to firearms dealers who meet the following requirements:

The DOH must provide technical assistance to firearms dealers who want to participate in the program, and conduct or contract for random audits of businesses who participate in order to ensure compliance with Project requirements. The DOH must implement the Project beginning January 1, 2018.

B&O Tax Credit.

A firearms dealer that is certified by the DOH as a Safe Homes Partner is entitled to a B&O tax credit of up to $2,500 per calendar year. Tax credits may not be claimed before January 1, 2018, or after December 31, 2023.

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee is directed to conduct an assessment of the effectiveness of the tax credit that, at a minimum, evaluates: the number of businesses claiming the credit; the total amount of credit claimed by fiscal year, with an average credit amount estimated based on the number of businesses claiming the credit; and other data related to the use and outcomes of the Safe Homes Project, including data related to the number of suicide deaths in the state prior to and after authorization of the credit.

Suicide Assessment, Treatment, and Management Training for Pharmacists.

A licensed pharmacist must complete a one-time training on suicide assessment, treatment, and management. The training must be completed by the end of the pharmacist's first full continuing education reporting period after January 1, 2017, or during his or her first full continuing education reporting period after initial licensure, whichever is later. Three-hour trainings for pharmacists must include content related to the assessment of issues related to imminent harm via lethal means.

The Schools of Pharmacy at the UW and Washington State University must convene a work group to develop curriculum for pharmacy students on suicide assessment, treatment, and management that includes identifying at-risk patients and limiting access to lethal means. The Schools of Pharmacy must consult with the Task Force on appropriate messages for the curriculum and submit a progress report to the Governor and Legislature by December 1, 2016.  By January 1, 2017, the DOH and the Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission, in consultation with the Task Force and experts on suicide assessment, treatment and management, must develop written materials on suicide awareness and prevention for pharmacies to post or distribute to customers. 

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on 1/21/16.

Effective Date: This bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed, except for section 7, relating to licensed pharmacist training, which takes effect January 1, 2017.