Governor Signs into Law Support of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law House Bill 343, amending the Official Code of Georgia to replace the terms “Mental Retardation and “Mentally Retarded” with “Intellectual Disability”.
HB 343 was sponsored by Rep. Scott Hilton, (R) District 95; Hilton’s first bill sponsorship as a state representative.
“As a father with a son with Down Syndrome, this has a lot of meaning for me, and it makes a ton of sense,” said Rep. Hilton. “I want this to signal that Georgia is a state that puts the person first. We are more alike than different.”
Stacy Ramirez, Executive Director of The Arc Georgia, the largest national community-based organization that advocates and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, initiated the Georgia code change after attending a session at the state capitol where the offensive, yet legal terminology was used during a meeting. Through research, Ramirez discovered that 43 states had already removed the offensive terminology from their state references and from there Ramirez, working with local advocates, began to work for the change in Georgia law.
“I shared my research with my state representative David Dreyer (D) District 59, who in turn involved Rep. Hilton to join the process of legally removing the offensive terminology from our state code, said Ramirez.” “This change is due to the efforts of many, but the real winners are the people of Georgia.”
Kurt Vogel, an individual advocate and supporter of HB 343 was recognized for his contributions on getting the bill passed during the signing ceremony at the State Capitol.
“This is a milestone in Georgia’s history for people with disabilities,” said Vogel, a 2016-17 Georgia Leadership & Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (GaLEND) Trainee. “It’s great to know that we’re all working together for a common goal.”
Photo Credit: CLD staff and Pam Hunter Dempsey