Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Thursday additional accommodations are likely for paralyzed lawmaker Rep. Jimmy Anderson, while also criticizing the Democrat’s request for more accessibility.
Vos, R-Rochester, told WISN-AM he anticipates accommodations to be made when the Assembly reconvenes in October. He did not specify what they might be.
Earlier this year Anderson, of Fitchburg, who uses a wheelchair, raised concern that he cannot call in to Assembly committee meetings that he sometimes cannot attend due to his disability. Assembly policy requires members attend committee meetings in person.
“Assembly Republicans are going to figure a way to address it and we’re going to bring changes to the Legislature and I’m sure at the end of the day we’re going to make accommodations, and there will be no news coverage of it because it’s all about making Republicans look bad,” Vos told a conservative radio talk show.
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Anderson, who is paralyzed from the chest down, earlier this year requested that he be able to call in to some committee meetings when he can’t be there in person to participate. He also has requested that meetings be held “during reasonable hours” and not overnight and that a coordinator with the Americans with Disabilities Act be made available at the statehouse.
On Thursday, Anderson said he has not had any communication with Vos regarding what accommodations might be planned.
“I imagine he is not being specific about these accommodations because he’s not going to give in to the accommodations that I have requested and if that’s the case unfortunately I might have to move to a lawsuit to enforce my rights under the ADA,” Anderson said.
However, Assembly Republicans have leaned on rules passed three years ago that do not allow members to call into a committee meeting. The Senate allows members to phone in, a practice Vos has criticized.
Vos has pointed to accommodations already made for Anderson, including providing him with a computer with voice recognition software.
On Thursday, Vos reiterated his argument that Anderson’s request is merely a political attack by Democrats and Anderson was trying to “put sand in the gears to slow down the process of Republicans actually passing legislation.”
He also contended that Anderson’s concerns are timed to the speaker’s recent appointment to president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“The fact that they launched this during the same week that I got to become the president of the nation’s largest bipartisan organization … first person from Wisconsin, does not seem like an accident to me,” Vos said. “Everything that they do is political and it’s based on trying to make the other side look bad.”
Anderson said he reached out to Vos more than six months ago, when his original request was made. He added that the speaker’s claim of partisan timing was “rich.”
“It’s absolutely insane,” he said, noting that Republicans and Democrats have both championed accessibility. “It really seems that Speaker Vos wants this to be a partisan fight when all I’m asking for is the recognition that even though I have a disability I deserve respect and dignity and inclusion.”