Story last updated at 1/30/2013 - 2:11 pm
JUNEAU -Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, introduced legislation that will update state health, education, and labor policy by removing the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded," and replace them with "intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"Although mental retardation used to be the clinical term that was used with good intentions, that is no longer the case. Instead, it has become a term used widely in our society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities," Meyer said. "We believe that it is time for us to be more inclusive and respectful by using terms that are 'people first' in our state laws and other official communications."
Senate Bill 39 on the Senate side and House Bill 88 on the House side, provide inclusive language in the state's statutes, while neither expanding or diminishing services, rights, responsibilities, or education opportunities for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The changes will make Alaska's law consistent with federal law, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the White House through the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
"Similar legislation has already been passed in 40 other states," Millett said. "I am proud to be spearheading the movement in Alaska to get away from derogatory and insulting words in our laws. This is a great first step in creating awareness and equality for people with disabilities so they can live the life they deserve in the community."
Senate Bill 39 was referred to the Senate Health and Social Services Committee. House Bill 88 was referred to the House Health and Social Services Committee.
For more information, please call Edra Morledge from Meyer's office at (907) 465-4945 or Vasilios Gialopsos in Millett's office at (907) 465-3871.