Senate unanimously passes Brown bill to protect people with developmental disabilities through ID designation

Today the Senate passed Sen. Sharon Brown’s bill to create a voluntary designation on state licenses and identicards for those with developmental disabilities.

“I’m so happy the Senate was able to unanimously support this important bill for Washingtonians with a developmental disability,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “If a caregiver is injured and unable to speak, there could be a misunderstanding between first responders and a person who has a disability and may be noncommunicative.

“We don’t ever want to create a situation where someone who is unable to fully communicate is mistaken for someone who is deliberately not complying or being hostile. This bill would create a designation to help make sure that anyone in this situation gets the proper care and attention they need.”

Senate Bill 6429 would allow a person with a developmental disability to apply to the Department of Licensing to obtain a DD designation on a driver’s license or identicard. The DD designation would be provided at no additional cost beyond regular driver’s license or identicard fees. The designation is completely voluntary, and solely at the request of the individual license or identicard applicant.

Sharon Adolphson with the Benton Franklin Parent Coalition and her daughter, Kendra Olson, are the inspiration for the bill.

“It would give parents an extra tool in their toolbox to help their child should they find themselves in a bad situation,” she said.

Diana Stadden, with the Arc of Washington State, who supports the bill and has a son with autism, described interactions between her son and law enforcement that were deescalated by using a homemade identification notecard.

“We are very much in favor of this bill,” said Stadden during the bill’s hearing. “I’ve had to create a card for him, for when he is home without me, and I’ve instructed him to sit quietly and hand the card to the officer.”

SB 6429 also has the support of the Parent Coalition of Grant, Adams, and Lincoln counties.

Brown urged the House of Representatives to take up the measure and pass it as soon as possible.