Disabled urge removal of offensive language

Published: Mar. 13, 2019 at 9:10 AM CDT
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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.