Republican leaders in the Assembly said Tuesday that they’re ready to accommodate the needs of state Representative Jimmy Anderson, a Madison area Democrat who uses a wheelchair.
“We took the politics out of it, just took a step back, and all figured out the best way to make sure that Representative Anderson can represent his district, but also do it in a way that doesn’t really compromise the integrity of what we think the legislature should be, and that’s a body where citizens have a right to come and see eye-to-eye with their legislator,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
Proposed rule changes would allow Anderson to phone in to committee meetings at the Capitol. Anderson had asked Vos earlier this year to allow that, and to avoid holding sessions late into the night. It’s not immediately clear if the changes will placate Anderson, who said it looked as if leaders were hoping to avoid a lawsuit.
“I think if they take a fair look at it, it’ll be clear that we addressed his concerns in a way that doesn’t affect the integrity of the body,” said Majority Leader Jim Steinke said the changes include allowing lawmakers with a disability to attend committee meetings by phone. Anderson said it looks as if GOP leaders are trying to avoid a lawsuit.
The accommodation for Anderson is included in rule changes that the Assembly will take up Thursday, and Democrats are critical of some of those proposals, especially one that would allow the chamber to make multiple attempts to override a governor’s veto. Currently, the Assembly is only allowed one vote on a veto. “Republicans ruined the chance to do something good and instead used it to make a power play for their political stature,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Dianne Hesselbein.