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Seclusion and Restraint, Family Care, Disability Rights Bills
Senator Lassa authored all four measures
 
Madison — Four bills authored by State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) were signed into law by Governor Scott Walker today.  Senator Lassa joined the governor for the signing at a ceremony at Independence First in Milwaukee, an agency that helps make homes and workplaces more accessible.
 
Senator Lassa introduced Senate Bill 353, which will limit the use of seclusion and restraint in schools, along Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon).  The new law restricts dangerous practices in restraining and secluding students, sets standards for training, and requires written documentation of incidents and reporting to parents and the Department of Public Instruction.  The legislation comes in response to reports from parents and educators of children being locked in dark seclusion rooms for hours, strapped into chairs, and placed in physical restraint holds, which sometimes resulted in injury.
 
“Many of these parents didn’t know that their children were being restrained or put in seclusion rooms – rooms that are locked from the outside - until a concerned school employee informed them about what was going on, or until parents began asking questions after noticing unexplained physical injuries or a change in their child’s behavior,” Lassa said. “This is wrong.  Parents have a right to know what is happening to their child in school.”
 
Senator Lassa also sponsored the bill that removes enrollment caps on Family Care, the program that helps elderly and disabled individuals stay in their homes instead of being forced into institutions.  The governor’s budget initially included freezing Family Care, but under orders from the federal government, the Legislature was forced to change course and lift the caps.
 
“Family Care is popular with patients because it gives better care in non-institutional settings, and it saves the state money. I’m pleased we were able to get the enrollment caps lifted,” Lassa said.
Two Lassa-sponsored bills signed today advance the interests of people with disabilities. Senate Bill 377 substitutes the phrase "intellectual disability" for "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" in the Wisconsin state statutes.  College students with disabilities will have greater access to accessible instructional materials under Assembly Bill 322. 
 
“I have always worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact good public policy for my constituents, and I’m glad we were successful in passing these new laws,” Lassa said.