A bill to change state law wording, really?
February 12, 2009 · Updated 1:00 PM
Jan Angel is one of several legislators proposing a bill to change how those with disabilities are referenced in state law.
Undoubtedly, these legislators’ hearts are in the right place, but are their heads?
Thousands of people are losing their jobs and the state is facing a $3.2 billion deficit.
While it’s imperative that people with disabilities are provided with the same rights as everyone else, using valuable time and energy to pass a bill to change how state law reads seems like it should be a little lower on the priority list. That may sound harsh to some, but we have bigger fish to fry, folks.
The thousands of Washingtonians who have lost their jobs and are hoping their state comes through for them probably aren’t too worried what’s written in some state handbook. With only so many bills to be passed this legislative session, let’s hope there’s someone in the capital who sees that while this is a nice thought and makes the state look good, some real action needs to be taken.
According to Angel, state law wording seems to really have an impact on the disabled.
“The way our laws are written reflect society’s views and that includes the way we reference individuals with disabilities. When it comes to how we affect people’s feelings, their lives and self-esteem, the verbiage that is used is very important,” Angel stated in a news release. “If a person is told repeatedly that he or she is retarded, soon that person begins to believe it is true. In this day and age, it is disrespectful to address anyone as mentally retarded. It’s an old, outdated term, and we can do better in state law to ensure respect for our citizens.”
House Bill 1835 would remove sections in state law that include the words “mental retardation” and would replace them with the term, “intellectual disability.”
Disabled citizens of this state would be far more grateful for legislation that directly improves their lives than a change in state law verbiage.