Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When Government Makes Good Things Happen

Before we all go off and celebrate, there's one final thing to add to the list.

The passing of House Bill 5046, the Restroom Access Bill. Otherwise known as the Bathroom Bill, the bill provides access to bathrooms in retail spaces, providing certain measures can be met by the establishment, to those of us with medical conditions.

The LSJ's John Schneider did a piece this morning about it here. I'd like to thank John personally for his advocacy on the issue.

A Christmas gift to those who gotta go when they gotta go ...

There were plenty of things state legislators should have done, but didn't do, in last week's lame-duck session.

But, in the words of Julielyn Gibbons - a Lansing woman who suffers from Crohn's disease - senators exhibited remarkable "common sense" in passing House Bill 5046, the restroom access bill.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, the bill was pronounced dead. According to Gibbons, a champion of the measure, it was resuscitated around 9 a.m.

Megan Brown, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said Monday the governor intends to sign the bill into law.

And thus compassion and decency - as it applies to this one aspect of human existence, anyway - will be the law of the land.

Introduced as a bill by State Rep. Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale), the law will require retail establishments with employees only bathrooms to open them to people with illnesses that necessitate immediate access to toilets.

Those folks will carry written proof from their doctors, and present it in emergencies.

The law, which also protects retailers from liability, will take effect in 90 days.

It's meant to help people with Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, pregnant women, etc.

Said Gibbons: "I think it's a real victory for those of us with medical conditions that kept us at home. It's another step forward for civil rights."

Last month I wrote about a woman with diabetes who suffered a humiliating accident after a clerk at Williams-Sonoma at the Eastwood Towne Center refused to let the woman use the store's bathroom.

A big thanks also to all of you who called and emailed on behalf of the issue, and to the Lansing-based Rossman Group, for their pro-bono work on the effort.

This is why those of us in politics keep doing what we do, because every so often, something good happens as a result.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

1 comment:

Jim Smith II said...

Really well done JL, look for props on my blog shortly ;-)