AP NEWS

The Latest: Disabled urge removal of offensive language

March 13, 2019

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on a bill that would remove the phrase “mental retardation” from a number of state agencies’ administrative code (all times local):

2 p.m.

Intellectually disabled people and their advocates are urging an Assembly committee to pass a bill that would remove the phrase “mental retardation” from five state agencies’ administrative rules.

Eighteen-year-old Brock Mielke of Hartland told the Assembly Committee on State Affairs during a public hearing on the bill Wednesday that he has Down syndrome. He says the “R-word” is offensive and hurts people.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. John Jagler introduced the bill in February. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers got out ahead of the measure Tuesday, issuing an executive order mandating all state agencies remove the term from code and replace it with “intellectual disability.”

Jagler told the committee that Evers didn’t confer with him at all on the order and he didn’t know it was coming. But he wants to push on with the bill because it will be a faster, permanent fix.

___

11:35 a.m.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers is promising the governor will sign a bill that would remove the phrase “mental retardation” from administrative code governing five state agencies, even though he just issued an executive order that calls on all state agencies to eliminate the term.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. John Jagler, both Republicans, introduced the bill in February. The measure would substitute “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” and its derivatives in code governing the Public Service Commission as well as the departments of Health Services; Children and Families; Safety and Professional Services; and Workforce Development.

It’s up for a public hearing Wednesday afternoon. Evers issued an executive order Tuesday mandating all state agencies substitute “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” in their rules, catching Fitzgerald and Jagler by surprise.

Evers’ spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, says some Democrats asked the governor to address the issue with an executive order. She it makes sense for Evers to take the lead since the changes apply to administrative rules. Still, she said Evers would “happily” sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

___

9 a.m.

A legislative committee is set to take comments on a bill that would remove the phrase “mental retardation” from sections of Wisconsin’s administrative code.

The proposal from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. John Jagler, both Republicans, would substitute “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” and its derivatives in code governing the Public Service Commission as well as the departments of Health Services; Children and Families; Safety and Professional Services; and Workforce Development.

The Assembly’s Committee on State Affairs is set to hold a public hearing on the measure Wednesday afternoon.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers got ahead of Fitzgerald and Jagler by issuing an executive order Tuesday that requires all state agencies to replace “mental retardation” and its derivatives with “intellectual disability” in their code.