Senate passes bill to drop 'mental retardation' term

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill that would remove the term "mental retardation" from five state agencies' administrative codes, even though Democratic Gov. Tony Evers ordered the deletion weeks ago.

The bill approved by the Senate on a voice vote Tuesday calls for replacing the term and derivatives with "intellectual disability" in regulations governing the agencies.

Evers angered the bill's Republican authors in March when he issued an executive order requiring all state agencies to remove "mental retardation" from their regulations, largely negating the need for the bill.

"I will support the bill going forward, and I'll sign it. I view this as covering all the bases, that all this wasn't one-upmanship on anybody. I feel that the issue was important enough that we needed to move quickly," the governor said.

"This was a really wasted opportunity that could have started this session out on a high note if all of us working together to send a message to families with disabilities that we understand," Rep. John Jagler (R-Watertown) said.

The bill's supporters say banning it in law is stronger than an executive order, which a future governor could undo.

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