On Thursday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Wisconsin Democratic state Rep. Jimmy Anderson is condemning GOP lawmakers' attempt to leverage his physical disability for political power.
"You disregard my accommodation request with the wave of a hand as if it's too much," said Anderson, who lost his brother and parents and was paralyzed after a drunk driver slammed into his car in 2010 when he was 24 years old. He requires extra assistance, including use of a speakerphone to remotely join meetings, to fully participate in legislative sessions.
Republicans in the House initially ignored his requests for accommodations, with House Speaker Robin Vos blasting his requests as "grandstanding."Now that he has taken them public, they are advancing a resolution to change House rules to allow the accommodations — but with a twist. The rules package would also considerably strip power from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the House minority. Among other things, the new rules would let Republicans vote to override vetoes an unlimited number of times as opposed to just once, and would block Democrats from forcing an up-or-down vote on their legislation.
Faced with outrage, Republicans split the resolution into two different rules packages — but still bundled some of the political rules, including the voting restriction, in with the package to authorize Anderson's disability accommodations.
The episode exposes the Wisconsin GOP to yet more accusations of abuse of power, following their passage of a series of laws in the lame-duck session stripping Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul of several powers held by their GOP predecessors.
"The great irony of this is that this is a political stunt that is being pulled," said Anderson in his floor speech. He is voting to advance the legislation out of necessity, but urging his fellow Democrats to oppose it in protest.