[nfb-talk] Fwd: [Nfb-legislative-directors] Proposed Changes to Service Animal Law Defeated

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Fri Feb 20 05:34:21 UTC 2015

>This message was posted to our private list for 
>Legislative Directors and helps answer the question:  why the NFB?


>On Tuesday, February 18, the National Federation 
>of the Blind of Arizona and other disability 
>groups were alerted that an amended bill was 
>scheduled for a committee hearing in the Arizona 
>House of Representatives at 9:00 a.m. on the 
>19th. The bill (HB 2179) included a “Strike-all” 
>amendment, which meant that the original 
>language of the bill would be replaced with new 
>and unrelated language.  If the bill were passed 
>out of committee and subsequently passed into 
>law, it would have fundamentally altered 
>Arizona’s service animal law (A.R.S. §11-1024). Proposed changes would have:
>    * Required that individuals who use service 
> animals obtain a permit from the Arizona 
> Department of health Services in order to take 
> their service animal in to a public place and 
> that such permit be renewed on a regular basis.
>    * As part of the permit process, an 
> individual will be required to apply to the 
> Department of Health Services and provide 
> documentation from a medical professional 
> certifying the applicant has a disability.
>    * Required that a service animal wear a 
> vest, also issued by the Department of Health 
> Services at all times when in a public place. 
> This vest will display permit information.
>    * Allowed restaurants to block access for 
> persons with service animals in order to meet 
> local and or state health code regulations.
>    * Required the Department of Health services 
> develop a sign for restaurants to display 
> indicating that service animals are not 
> permitted and that a separate sign for other 
> public businesses not serving food be created 
> that indicates service animals are allowed.
>    * Required the Arizona Department of Health 
> Services to petition the United States 
> Department of Justice requesting that the 
> Americans with Disabilities Act be updated to comply with state law.
>The National Federation of the Blind of Arizona 
>and several other disability groups reacted 
>quickly and organized an effective response to 
>the proposed legislation. NFBA  has an active 
>legislative committee, and along with members 
>from the Tucson, Phoenix and East Valley 
>chapters and its new guide dog 
>division  appeared at the Arizona state Capitol 
>building prior to the start of the meeting in 
>order to register as many people as possible to 
>speak against the bill in the committee 
>hearing.  In addition, the legislative committee 
>appealed to members that could not personally 
>attend the meeting and asked them to email the 
>committee chair and other committee members 
>urging them to vote against the legislation.  We 
>were able to send out approximately thirty 
>emails before the committee hearing started.
>During the hearing, the committee chair made it 
>clear that his intent was not to pass 
>legislation that imposed greater restrictions on 
>persons with disabilities that require the use 
>of service animals.  He intended to craft a bill 
>that punished “bad actors,” or those individuals 
>who masquerade their pets as service animals for 
>the sole purpose of taking them into places that 
>prohibit pets.  This intent was not evident in the wording of the bill.
>Many members of the NFBA and the other 
>disability groups testified in opposition to the 
>bill.  All testimony given by the public 
>indicated that the stated intent differed from 
>that of the actual bill and that, as written, 
>this bill violated the Americans with Disability 
>Act.  Testimony suggested that rather than 
>advance a “bad” bill, a bill should be written 
>that focused on the “bad actors” rather than persons with disabilities.
>Due to effective grass-roots advocacy by the 
>NFBA and the other disability groups this bill 
>was defeated with a unanimous vote of 8 – 
>0.  The committee members who commented on their 
>votes cited the testimony given by the public as 
>strongly influencing their votes.
>My thanks and gratitude goes out to everyone who 
>participated in the committee hearing, sent emails and made phone calls.
>Donald Porterfield, Esq.
>First Vice President and Legislative Director
>National Federation of the Blind of Arizona
><mailto:donaldpfield at gmail.com>donaldpfield at gmail.com

         David Andrews and long white cane Harry.
E-Mail:  dandrews at visi.com or david.andrews at nfbnet.org

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