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Wheelchair-Using Lawmaker Not Allowed To Join Meetings By Phone

Rep. Jimmy Anderson: Health Prevents Him From Attending Some Meetings

State Rep. Jimmy Anderson
Jimmy Anderson is photographed on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 in Fitchburg, Wis. Bryna Godar/AP Photo

Leadership of the Wisconsin Assembly will not allow a paralyzed lawmaker who is in a wheelchair to phone into committee meetings.

Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, says enforcing the legislative rule keeps him from performing his job as well as he should. Anderson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a story published Monday that the rule discriminates against him because he has difficulty getting to some meetings because of health reasons.

But Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Rochester, said he is unwilling to change the rule.

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Vos told the Journal Sentinel, “I think it’s disrespectful for someone to be asking questions over a microphone or a speakerphone when individuals are actually taking the time out of their day to come and testify in person.”

Anderson said it’s “absolutely ridiculous” to say accommodating someone with a disability would somehow be disrespectful to people.