GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Legislation to create a permanent statewide mental health hotline is advancing in Michigan.

The state House approved the bill 99-8 Tuesday and sent it to the Senate for further consideration.

The telephone referral system would be available 24 hours a day, seven days of week and would refer people experiencing a mental health crisis to service providers.

A spending law approved late last year includes $3 million to develop, operate and maintain a hotline pilot program. The new legislation is intended as a way to expand that program statewide.

The sponsor, Republican Rep. Mary Whiteford of Allegan County's Casco Township, says the hotline would help those who do not know where to turn - potentially keeping families together and saving lives.

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