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Special arrangements should be made for disabled state lawmaker




Last Friday marked the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Much progress has been made since then, ensuring all Americans, regardless of ability, have access to public buildings and other places. But clearly, more needs to be done. Consider the case of Wisconsin state Representative Jimmy Anderson. Anderson represents the Fitchburg area in the state legislature. He is bound to a wheelchair, paralyzed from the chest down following a 2010 traffic accident. A drunk driver smashed into the vehicle Anderson was in, killing his parents and brother. It can be difficult for Anderson to attend some legislative meetings due to his condition. So he is asking to be able to participate in legislative proceedings by phone. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has refused to change the rules, saying it is disrespectful to allow someone to participate by phone, when others come to testify in person. The Assembly and Senate set their own rules on how they conduct their meetings, and while the Senate allows members to phone in committee meetings, the Assembly does not. Are they not bound by the rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act? Do they not have a heart? Is this a political move, since Vos is a Republican and Anderson is a Democrat? Whatever the reason, the Assembly should accommodate Anderson’s simple request and allow a duly elected member of the Legislature to be able to fully participate.

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