This morning the Arizona House of Representatives held a hearing on a proposed amendment to a bill which was expected to have widespread and bipartisan support, as it dealt with amusement park safety and replaced an older law which needed to be updated. Unlike the bill, the proposed amendment would have had disastrous consequences for guide and service dog users in Arizona — requiring them to register annually as people with disabilities who needed to use service dogs, requiring their dogs to wear garments identifying themselves and their owners with photo IDs, requiring guide and service dog users to have annual medical appointments to verify their disabilities, and barring service dogs from restaurants and virtually anywhere else owners could claim health code violations. In addition, the proposed amendment would have disavowed the state’s obligation to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Notice of the proposed amendment and the hearing concerning it was released only yesterday, and you can imagine how the blindness and disability communities must have had to scramble to arrive at the hearing this morning and to sign up to testify.
GDUI received great news from Liz Whitlock, president of Guide Dog Users of Arizona, who was able to attend the hearing and to share the good news with all of us that advocacy worked extremely well to defeat the amendment. It went down “in flames,” by an 8 to 0 vote against its inclusion in the bill.
GDUI wants to congratulate Liz and all of the members of GDUAZ on successfully defeating this proposed draconian legislation.
In addition to showing up at the hearing and signing up to testify, many members of GDUAZ wrote compelling letters to their representatives and to the chair of the committee who had introduced the amendment. Ron Brooks wrote one of the most effective letters related to advocacy for civil rights and against restricting those rights any of us has ever seen.
I am sharing Liz’s message to me concerning today’s outcome, and I know that all of you join me in congratulating GDUAZ, and the blindness and disability communities — even as we remind ourselves that we must remain ever vigilant to preserve and defend our hard-won civil rights!
Here is Liz’s message:
Good News from Arizona. The amendment failed to the proposal, 8-0. The
room was filled with guide dog users, service dog users, trainers, attorneys
(speaking on behalf of illegalities), agencies representing the blind and
visually impaired community, and even one person from the restaurant
industry. I was slotted to speak, but a ways down the list. After 16 or 17
people has spoken in opposition of the amendment, the committee recessed and
took a vote.
We are thankful that the proposition did not go through, and will keep a
close eye to ensure it does not pop up again.
Thanks for the support,