R-Word Bill Signing March 28 in Lansing

On Friday, March 28, Michigan will officially remove the term "retard(ed)" from state laws when Lt. Governor Brian Calley puts pen to paper on the "R-Word" package of bills at Hill Auditorium (5813 Wise Road) in Lansing.

Earlier this month, the Michigan Senate and House unanimously voted to remove the term "retard(ed)" from state laws. Senator Rebekah Warren (D-18th District) and Senator Bruce Caswell (R-16th District) co-sponsored the Senate Resolution. Representatives Gail Haines (R-43rd District), Matt Lori (R-59th District) and Phil Cavanagh (D-10th District) sponsored the House Resolution.

The "R-Word" is currently used 15 times in a variety of Michigan laws dealing with everything from mental health institutions to educational facilities and criminal activity. It will now be replaced with the term "developmental disability". There are only a handful of states left that have yet to take similar measures. The terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" were removed from federal health, education and labor policy in 2010.

"This is a historic day for Michigan," said Special Olympics Michigan President and CEO Lois Arnold. "We would like to thank Lt. Governor Brian Calley for his leadership in helping to make today possible. With the signing of these bills, those with developmental disabilities now have a new ‘R-Word': respect."

Following Friday's "R-Word" bill signing, there will be a "Spread the Word to End the Word" anti-bullying rally. Students from Washington Woods Middle School; Sexton High School; STEM; Eastern High School; Mason Middle School; Wexford Academy; Gardner Law, Leadership and Government Academy; and Everett High School will take part in the rally. WILX-TV's Amanda Malkowski will emcee the event.


R-Word Bill Signing & Anti-Bullying Summit Event Timeline

  • 9:00 am - Press Conference Begins
  • 9:00-9:05 am - Lt. Governor Calley (Chair of the Commission), welcomes the attendees, shares the goals and vision for the Commission, announces we are here to sign the R-Word legislation, introduces Director Haveman.
  • 9:05-9:07 am -Jim Haveman, Director of DCH, Vice-Chair of Commission: Comments and introduces Sen Caswell
  • 9:07-9:09 am - Senator Caswell, Commission Member: Comments and introduces Sen Warren
  • 9:09-9:11 am - Senator Warren, Commission Member: Comments and introduces Rep Lori
  • 9:11-9:13 am - Representative Lori, Commission Member: Comments and introduces Rep Cavanagh
  • 9:13-9:15 am - Representative Cavanagh, Commission Member: Comments
  • 9:15-9:16 am - All members move to the bill-signing table
  • 9:16-9:20 am - Signing of Senate Bill 805 - Mental Health Code (Warren)
  • 9:20-9:30 am - Questions from the Media
  • 9:30 am - Press Conference Ends
  • 9:30-9:40 am - Remaining pictures with members
  • 10:00 am - Spread the Word to End the Word Anti-Bullying Summit begins
  • 11:30 am-12:10 pm - Lunch
  • 12:15-1:45 pm - Presentations from Lansing Police Department, LSD Public Safety and schools.