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Gov. Tony Evers will sign offensive language bill

Posted at 12:02 PM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 13:02:42-04

MADISON (AP) — A spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers is promising the governor will sign a bill that would remove the phrase "mental retardation" from administrative code governing five state agencies, even though he just issued an executive order that calls on all state agencies to eliminate the term.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. John Jagler, both Republicans, introduced the bill in February. The measure would substitute "intellectual disability" for "mental retardation" and its derivatives in code governing the Public Service Commission as well as the departments of Health Services; Children and Families; Safety and Professional Services; and Workforce Development.

It's up for a public hearing Wednesday afternoon. Evers issued an executive order Tuesday mandating all state agencies substitute "intellectual disability" for "mental retardation" in their rules, catching Fitzgerald and Jagler by surprise.

Evers' spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff says some Democrats asked the governor to address the issue with an executive order. She said it makes sense for Evers to take the lead because the changes apply to administrative rules. Still, she said Evers would "happily" sign the bill if it reaches his desk.