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Calley signs legislation removing "R word" from state statutes to ensure dignity

Friday, March 28, 2014 

LANSING, Mich. - Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today signed legislation that preserves the dignity of residents with developmental disabilities by removing the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” from state statutes.

Replacing those outdated, derogatory terms with the term “developmental disability” brings Michigan’s statutes up to date with accepted, modern terminology.

“These new laws make clear that ‘respect’ is the new ‘R word,’” said Calley, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to chair the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission, which recommended this legislation. “The former, antiquated term is hurtful and dehumanizing to our fellow Michiganders who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. In addition, the stigma associated with that term too often becomes a barrier to those in need of services or employment. The state of Michigan is taking a leadership role by replacing that ugly word in its statutes. It’s an example that we all should follow in our personal and professional lives so that every Michigander is treated with respect.”

Calley signed the legislation at Lansing’s Hill Academic Center and was joined by lawmakers and mental health advocates. The bills are:

HB 5345, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Lori, which strikes from existing law the definition of the term “mental retardation.” The bill adds the term “intellectual disability” as defined in Section 100B of the Mental Health Code.

HB 5346, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Cavanagh, which amends the definition of “child caring institution” by striking the term “mentally retarded” and replacing it with the term “developmentally disabled.”

HB 5347, sponsored by state Rep. Gail Haines, which amends multiple sections of the Michigan Public Health Code to strike definitions of and references to the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” and replaces them with the term “developmental disability.”  

HB 5348, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Leonard, which amends the Michigan Insurance Code and creates an exemption for a parent with a child with developmental disability beyond an existing insurance policy’s termination age for dependent coverage.

HB 5349, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Cotter, amends the Revised Judicature Act which prohibits charging a fee for furnishing certified copies in connection with proceedings for the admission and commitment of people to mental hospitals or any facility or institution maintained or operated by the state or the federal government for the care of mentally ill or developmentally disabled persons or for determining inheritance tax.

HB 5350, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Cochran, which amends the Michigan Surrogate Parenting Act definitions section. It strikes from existing law the definition of “mentally retarded” and replaces it with the identical definition of “intellectually disabled.” The bill also strikes out all references to the term “mentally retarded” and replaces them with the term “intellectually disabled.”

HB 5351, sponsored by state Rep. David Knezek, which allows Intermediate School Districts and constituent school districts to incorporate a building authority for purposes related to a facility for children with disabilities. The bill also strikes the term “retarded” and replaces it with the term developmentally disabled.”

HB 5352, sponsored by state Rep. Patrick Somerville, which amends the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement Act to revise a reference to service performed in a community mental health service program in the definition of “out of system public education service.” The bill strikes the term “severely mentally retarded” from the definition and replaces it with the term “developmentally disabled.”

Senate Bill 805, sponsored by state Sen. Rebecca Warren, which amends the definitions section of the Michigan Mental Health Code to strike definitions of and references to the term “mentally retarded” and replaces it with the term “developmentally disabled.”

SB 806, sponsored state Sen. Bruce Caswell, which amends the Michigan Adult Foster Care Facility Licensing Act to strikes a reference to the term “mental retardation.”

SB 807, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Ananich, which amends the Michigan Prudent Purchaser Act to refer to a facility for the developmentally disabled, rather than a mental retardation facility.

SB 808, sponsored by state Sen. Rick Jones, which amends the Michigan Nonprofit Health Care Corporation Reform Act to prohibit a nonprofit health care insurer from removing a dependent child from a health care policy that contains an age limit where the parent has met certain criteria for proving that the child is developmental disabled.

SB 809, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Jansen, which amends the Michigan Code of Criminal Procedure sections dealing with a person’s ability to plead his or her case based on a claim of insanity.

SB 810, state Sen. Bert Johnson, which amends the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to strike the term “mentally retarded person” and replace it with the term “developmentally disabled individual.”

SB 811, state Sen. John Moolenaar, which amends the Older Michiganians Act to strike the term “mentally retarded” and replace it with the term “developmentally disabled.”

HB 5345 – HB 5352 are now Public Acts 64 -78 of 2014.

For more information on what is included in the supplemental, visit V Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority to the lieutenant governor when the governor is outside the state.