Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

March 6, 2014

Lawmakers pass bills deleting 'retarded' from laws

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" will be removed from state laws under legislation that unanimously passed the state Senate and House on Wednesday.

The bills incorporate a recent recommendation from a mental health commission appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The bipartisan legislation strikes references to outdated language from various statutes and replaces them with terms such as "developmentally disabled" or "intellectually disabled." The legislation is expected on Snyder's desk shortly.

President Barack Obama signed a law in October 2010 requiring similar changes to be made to federal statute.

Bill sponsor Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, said in a statement it's "a fundamental first step" toward "ensuring everyone in our state is treated with the dignity and the respect they deserve."

Warren is a member of the mental health commission, which recommended the wording changes in December 2013 with the aim of reducing stigmas associated with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

Rep. Gail Haines, R-Lake Angelus, sponsored one of the bills and said the changes will help ensure people with disabilities are treated "for who they really are."

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