WI Lawmaker With Disability Says He Isn’t Allowed To Call Into Committee Meetings

Jimmy Anderson
Jimmy Anderson
|
July 30, 2019 1:16 p.m.

Wisconsin state Rep. Jimmy Anderson (D), who is paralyzed from the chest down, said on Monday that the Republican-controlled state Assembly won’t allow him to call into committee meetings, a rule that can bar him from voting.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) refuses to change the rule, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it’s “disrespectful” for a lawmaker to ask question via speakerphone “when individuals are actually taking the time out of their day to come and testify in person.”

Anderson uses a wheelchair to attend Assembly meetings in person when he can, but he told the Journal Sentinel that due to health reasons, it isn’t always possible for him to do so.

“I think it is absolutely ridiculous to say that an accommodation needed for a disability would somehow be disrespectful to people,” he said. “I think it’s disrespectful to exclude a duly elected member of the Legislature to be able to fully participate when the need for an accommodation arises.”

Joshua Miller, a spokesperson for Anderson, told TPM that the Democratic lawmaker has received supportive calls from “many people” in Wisconsin, but that he isn’t planning on suing over discrimination yet.

“The representative would prefer not to put the taxpayers of Wisconsin on the line for Vos’ poor behavior,” Miller said. “But if the people of Wisconsin can’t pressure him to do the right thing, he’s willing to take that next step.”

For now, Miller said, “Our goal is to make sure that our story is heard.”

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