When Kelly Buckland, executive director of the State Independent Living Council, gave his budget presentation to lawmakers this morning, he noted a distinction for Idaho: It’s amended its child custody laws to ban discrimination against parents with disabilities. “We are, in fact, the only state in the country that has done that, so our parents with disabilities have protection where parents living in other states don’t,” Buckland told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “We’re very proud of that accomplishment in Idaho, and SILC is the one that spearheaded that.” Buckland, who was making his final JFAC pitch as SILC executive director, said Idahoans with disabilities name transportation as a top issue that prevents people from living independently. Enforcement of civil rights laws comes next, and then public awareness and stigma, especially in schools and with law enforcement. People with disabilities also often don’t know what services are available, he said. The state has made important advances, however, in building codes, through adding disability as a protected class in the state’s human rights act, and in its Medicaid program for workers with disabilities.
“You all should be proud of some of the accomplishments of this legislature for people with disabilities,” Buckland told the joint budget committee. “We all have set some standards for other states to live up to.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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