Bill to eliminate the term 'retarded' from KY laws passes out of committee

Kentucky State Capitol building in Frankfort.
Kentucky State Capitol building in Frankfort.

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) – Proposed legislation to eliminate the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" from all Kentucky Revised Statutes passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 212, introduced by Sen. Kathy W. Stein, D-Lexington, would replace the words "retarded" and "retardation" with "intellectual disability" or a variation every time they are used in KRS. It also would prohibit governmental agencies from using the terms, but would allow the agencies to change their names to a sufficiently descriptive alternative. It encourages nongovernmental agencies named to boards and listed in statute to change their names, as well.

"This legislation is about respect," said Stein. "The idiom 'mental retardation' has become disrespectful in the way it is used. This legislation would have KRS apply language to show the individuals affected the respect that they deserve."

Sen. Stein said SB 212 would set the model for eliminating the term "mental retardation" from usage in society.

The change in terminology would not have any effect on federal funding such as Medicaid, Senator Stein said. "The new language will be compatible with federal laws."

SB 212 now moves to the floor of the Kentucky State Senate for further consideration. Chase Hieneman, a University of Kentucky student interning in the Senate, came up with the idea for the legislation.

Sen. Stein represents the 13th district that includes part of Fayette County.

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