Anyone who has ever had to rush to a public bathroom to deal with their infant or toddler's horrific poop explosion understands the feeling of horror one experiences upon discovering that there is no changing table available. This is the problem that bill HB2529 attempts to address here in Arizona.
The bill was written to address the general concerns of parents of infants and young children, but there is another group of parents who heard about the bill and decided to get involved. These are parents of teenage and adult children who are still in diapers, a group who has called themselves Dignified Changes.
If you haven't experienced it, it's hard to fully understand the daily struggles of parents whose teenage and adult children need diaper changes, and what that looks like in a public space.
This is an issue that I admit I didn't even realize was a problem until I heard about it from other parents in my local disability community. My friends told stories about the isolation of deciding not to venture out to events and community spaces, or the humiliation of trying to change a diaper in the back of a pickup truck or on the floor of a public restroom.
Having heard about bill HB2529, this group of parents and their supporters worked with legislators to get an amendment added to the bill to include adult changing stations in new publicly funded buildings.
In an ideal world a universal changing station would include a wheelchair hoist, and would be available in every public building in the state.
The compromise that Dignified Changes came to with legislators was that the new universal changing stations would be large enough to push a wheelchair into and include a table large enough for an adult to lie down on, and low enough for another adult to be able to lift them from a wheelchair onto the surface. The average cost of this would be around $300-400, making the impact of this on taxpayers very minimal.
We were all very excited when the amendment was voted on and passed unanimously by both Republicans and Democrats on the Health and Human Services Committee. Now all that had to happen was for the bill itself to be added to the Rules Committee agenda for review and a vote, which we all thought would be a simple step in the process.
Unfortunately in our excitement we had forgotten that some politicians see our democracy as a game, with the concerns of their constituents used as a ball to kick around the political field.
So instead of the bill moving forward it has gotten stuck on the desk of Representative Anthony Kern.
Kern is not only refusing to put the bill on the agenda, he's also not responding to the many emails and phone calls from concerned citizens who want to know why.
In the meantime he has had time to add to the agenda such important and critical bills as one on whether our state drink should be lemonade.
To be clear, there is no logical or party based reason that bill HB2529 should not be passed. This is not a bill that would impact local businesses or cost taxpayers thousands more dollars in renovations to already built public spaces.
This bill only impacts future builds of publicly funded buildings and large renovations, adding a minor cost to the project and a major benefit to the community. This bill was unanimously passed by both Republican and Democratic legislators on the Health and Human Services Committee.
Mr. Kern has an opportunity to be a champion to Arizona families and the disability community. All he needs to do to help make the lives of thousands of people better is to add this bill to the agenda so that it can be reviewed and voted on.
If you are outraged by this, as you should be, feel free to give Mr Kern, or Governor Doug Ducey, a piece of your mind and let them know what you think about it.
There are many easy ways to get involved and help this bill pass: join the facebook group, call or email Nbarto@azleg.gov/602-926-5766, follow the hashtag #dignifiedchanges on instagram or twitter, or come to the state capital tomorrow to "play ball" on the capitol lawn with other families hoping for "change" in Arizona's public bathrooms.
Since becoming a mom to a little boy with Trisomy 21 I have written a lot about Down syndrome and disabilities. I am a storyteller, wife and mom to a teen and a toddler. Life is busy!