Senate passes bill striking 'retardation' from state laws

JUNEAU — Alaska has moved one step closer to striking “mental retardation” from state laws.

The Alaska Senate on Thursday unanimously passed HB88, which would replace “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” with terms such as “intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

“Anyone who doesn’t see how demeaning and debilitating the ‘r’ words can be, should listen to the emotional testimony given during these committee hearings,” Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, said in a news release. “This is great first step in creating awareness by using more inclusive and respectful terms that are ‘people first’ in our state laws and other official communications.”

Meyer sponsored a Senate companion bill to go along with HB88, which unanimously passed the House earlier this month.

According to Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, who carried the bill, more than 40 states have already adopted similar measures.

The bill now goes to the governor, but his Council on Disabilities and Special Education has already hailed its passage as a success.

ANCHORAGE — The Coast Guard has lifted its order restricting movement of a drilling vessel from a Kodiak Island bay in Alaska.

Capt. Paul Mehler III says in an announcement that Royal Dutch Shell PLC is free to move the Kulluk after meeting requirements he placed on the vessel.

The Kulluk drilled in the Beaufort Sea last year and was being towed to Seattle when it broke loose from its towing vessel. The round drilling barge ran aground New Year’s Eve.

It was refloated and towed to the protected bay, but Mehler ordered it to remain anchored until its condition was assessed.

Shell wants to tow the Kulluk to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands and place it aboard a larger vessel for a “dry tow” to an Asian shipyard.

— The Associated Press

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