Senate passes bill to drop 'mental retardation' term

Maricruz Casares
Abril 12, 2019

Tony Evers had the authority to withdraw appointments that had been approved during a lame-duck legislative session.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Tuesday said there was "some truth" to claims by Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling that the GOP was "slow walking" the Evers appointments. But Evers' order mandates all state agencies, not just the five covered in the bill, drop the term. Evers said he will sign it.

Evers has said he will sign it.

The bill would immediately replace the phrase "mental retardation" and derivatives with "intellectual disability" in administrative code governing the state Public Service Commission, as well as the departments of Health Services, Children and Families, Safety and Professional Services, and Workforce Development.

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"People in Wisconsin believe in the protections guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act".

Republican Rep. John Jagler, who has a daughter with Down syndrome, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have been working on this proposal since October.

Evers angered the bill's Republican authors in March when he issued an executive order requiring all state agencies to remove "mental retardation" from their regulations, largely negating the need for the bill. Evers' spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, emailed the governor's top aides a few hours later asking whether Evers could sign an executive order accomplishing the same thing. His position on the law was a key issue in the 2018 governor's race that Evers narrowly won. The Assembly followed suit with another voice vote Tuesday afternoon. "It was clearly a political stunt".

Vos questioned how Republicans can work with Evers on major issues since he won't partner with them on simple proposals like Jagler and Fitzgerald's bill. "So I think in the end it will be fine".

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