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Disabled Wisconsin lawmaker asks to participate remotely

Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, responds on Aug. 12, 2016, to a question during an interview at the Wisconsin Journal in Madison. Anderson, a disabled Democratic lawmaker in Wisconsin, is asking Assembly Republicans to allow him to participate in floor sessions remotely, much as he was able to under accommodations sometimes used during the coronavirus pandemic. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, responds on Aug. 12, 2016, to a question during an interview at the Wisconsin Journal in Madison. Anderson, a disabled Democratic lawmaker in Wisconsin, is asking Assembly Republicans to allow him to participate in floor sessions remotely, much as he was able to under accommodations sometimes made during the coronavirus pandemic. (M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A disabled Democratic lawmaker has asked Assembly Republicans to allow him to participate in floor sessions remotely, much like the accommodations sometimes used during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Jimmy Anderson, who is quadriplegic, invoked his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and threatened to take legal action if his request isn’t granted.

In a letter to Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, Anderson said his disability prevents him from being physically present for every vote, the State Journal reported.

“With COVID, we did it, we figured out a way for us to be able to do this, so I think it makes perfect sense,” Anderson said. “If we can provide it for COVID purposes we should be able to provide it for disabilities.”

Vos didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The letter comes more than a year after Assembly Republicans, at Anderson’s urging, changed their rules to allow those with disabilities to phone into committee meetings, but stopped short of fulfilling his other requests.

Anderson said he had previously asked Republican lawmakers to limit floor session hours to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. as well as give appropriate notice for floor sessions and committee hearings, but Republicans had denied those requests. Anderson renewed those requests and asked that he be able to fully participate digitally or by phone in floor sessions.

“Even with those additional changes that Republicans made, it’s still not possible for me to be safe and healthy as a quadriplegic and be … physically present for all of those bills,” Anderson said.

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