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Wisconsin lawmakers introduce bill removing ‘R-word’ from state code

January 23, 2019
Jagler

Two Republican lawmakers Tuesday proposed purging the term “mental retardation” from Wisconsin’s administrative code because people with certain disabilities find it offensive.

Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, introduced a bill Tuesday that would replace “mental retardation” and its derivatives with “intellectual disability” in all cases where it appears in state administrative code, the thousands of pages of rules written by state agencies to implement state law.

The same swap was made from state law in 2012.

The lawmakers said they introduced the new bill because the terminology can be found in rules written by numerous state agencies.

The phrase was found about 93 times in rules for five agencies — the Department of Health Services, the Department of Children and Families, the Public Service Commission, the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Safety and Professional Services, said Charlie Bellin, a research assistant for Jagler’s office.

For Jagler, the bill has personal meaning. His daughter, Gracie, has Down syndrome.

“Our administrative code shouldn’t contain terms that would make others not feel included or make them feel like they are not as valuable as their neighbors,” Jagler said in a statement. “Updating the terminology will go a long way into making our state government more respectful of its citizens with disabilities.”

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