Capitol Alert

Steinberg to launch mental health foundation

Outgoing Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday that after he leaves the Legislature at the end of next month he will form a foundation to work on mental-health policy issues, an area that has long been a priority for the Sacramento Democrat.

The announcement came in the form of a tweet and was confirmed by Steinberg spokesman Rhys Williams. Steinberg was not immediately available to comment, but during a Twitter chat about the large number of mentally ill people who fill California prisons, he wrote:

It was the most definitive Steinberg has been yet about his plans after leaving office, though he has been active in mental health policy-making for many years. A decade ago, Steinberg pushed Proposition 63 to levy a tax on millionaires to fund programs for the mentally ill. More recently, as Senate President Pro Tem, he’s fought for legislation to ensure that autism treatment for children is covered by health plans and provide funding to treat mentally ill criminals to keep them from re-offending after they’re released from jail. Just last week, Steinberg spoke at the opening of a new mental health research center at UC Davis, aimed at improving treatment options for people in the Central Valley.

Steinberg’s interest in mental health care is personal, too. His 20-year-old daughter Jordana struggled her entire childhood with a severe mood disorder, and spent many years living apart from the family while she was in psychiatric care facilities. In August, Jordana Steinberg shared her recovery story with The Bee, and said she wants to become a mental health advocate.

With her father forced to leave the Legislature this year due to term limits, the Capitol has been abuzz with musings on what he might do next. Steinberg has said there was not a political office open this year that he was interested in running for, and that he planned to go into private practice as a lawyer while pursuing foundation work in the policy areas he cares about. That could be in mental health care, high school education or urban planning, Steinberg told The Bee’s editorial board in July. He has said he hopes to hold a public office again in the future, and continues raising money toward that ambition. Steinberg is holding a $500-per-person reception at the Citizen Hotel on Wednesday to benefit his potential 2018 campaign for lieutenant governor.

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