Indeed, viewing the written testimony of CHRO Executive Director Robert Brothers in support of Senate Bill 1164, you could be left with the impression that the changes being proposed to the state’s anti-discrimination laws were nothing more than technical in nature.
But a more detailed review of the proposed bill reveals significant changes to how the state processes anti-discrimination complaints and what the scope is of such laws. It would seemingly add emotional distress damages, for example, to the relief available at a public hearing for the first time.
To be fair, some of the changes really are technical in nature, such as to make the statute more gender neutral. The problem is that such innocuous changes are lumped together with the significant ones.
The Office of Legislative Research’s summary of the bill is far more complete than the CHRO testimony and highlights some of the substantive changes, but even that office’s summary misses some troubling changes.
Here are three (among many) notable items from the bill worth a review, illustrating why this rushed bill is a bad idea at this time.
Changes to “Mental Disability” – The bill expands the definition of a “mental disability” to not only “mental disorders, as defined in the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’, but also to including having “a record of or regarding a person as having one or more such disorders”.