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Otter signs legislation to help grandparents and erase offensive words (video)

Otter signs legislation to help grandparents and erase offensive words (video)

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
April 6, 2010

Gov. Butch Otter held two signing ceremonies Tuesday showing his support for proposals that would make it easier for grandparents to care for their grandchildren and would remove some archaic and potentially offensive words from state law.  Both measures passed in the Legislature with little opposition.

The first piece of legislation would create a new system for grandparents or other relatives to gain custody of their grandchildren or relatives when parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children.  Courts will now have a standard for determining whether grandparents or other relatives would be a child’s de facto custodian.  Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, said during the signing ceremony that it is the first of several reforms designed to bolster the rights of grandparents and protect children.

David High, the vice president of the advocacy group Idaho Voices for Children, explains some of the changes in the legislation signed by the governor.

Otter invited a crowd of children and their grandparents into his office for the signing ceremony.  Before signing the legislation, Otter told the children a story about helping children.

Otter’s second ceremony was for legislation that will remove outdated words, including retarded, lunatic, idiot, and handicap, from state law.  The plan is designed to use more contemporary words while not changing the meaning of any state statute.  Otter said Idaho government should officially stop using certain words.

Otter and Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, the sponsor of the legislation, say they expect that state laws will need to be cleaned up every few years to make sure there aren’t outdated terms on the books.

Due to concerns from the attorney general, Bock amended the plan in the Senate to make sure that the state’s death penalty statute, which mentions “mental retardation,” wouldn’t be changed, .

Marilyn Sword, executive director of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities, said the legislation is a good step to take right now.

The governor has held an handful of public signing ceremonies, and has quietly signed more than 200 pieces of legislation approved by lawmakers.  He has yet to veto any plans from lawmakers this year.  Read the text of the grandparents legislation, S1382, here and the legislation removing archaic words, S1330, here.

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