- Associated Press - Monday, March 23, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana senators have given nearly unanimous approval to a slate of bills that would boost community-based mental health care.

Republican-sponsored House Bills 24, 33, 34 and 35, along with Democratic-sponsored House Bill 47 passed initial votes in the Senate on Monday with no more than four opponents.

The five measures would send a total of about $8 million to community-based mental health initiatives around the state including group homes, youth evaluations and secure, overnight emergency intervention.

The proposals replace or expand on portions of Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan to expand mental health care. Lawmakers have cut nearly half of the governor’s original $20 million plan, primarily denying additional funds to the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs.

The governor’s office has not yet backed the representatives’ proposals.

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