PHOENIX — Adults who need help with their diapers will apparently get some access to changing facilities in public buildings — eventually.
On a 56-2 vote the House gave final approval Wednesday to a requirement for new and renovated public buildings to have at least one restroom in each building that can serve as a changing station for both babies and adults and is accessible to men and women. The measure goes to Gov. Doug Ducey for his anticipated signature.
But it took some major concessions by supporters to get the measure to the point where it can now be sent to the governor.
The original plan would have affected all buildings accessible to the public. Now only buildings owned by government entities are affected.
It would have required adding changing stations any time a remodeling project costs at least $10,000. The final version in HB 2113 sets the threshold at $50,000 and requires total removal of interior walls, mechanical and electric systems as well as plumbing fixtures.
And the mandate does not kick in until 2020.
Still, the legislation is a crucial victory for those in the disability community who told lawmakers of having to put their adult children on the dirty floors of public restrooms to change their diapers.
Even with the limits, Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, was one of the two votes against the plan.
“I agree with what they’re trying to do,” he told Capitol Media Services after the vote. But he’s wary of the precedent the legislation sets.
“Today you’re going to mandate it in state facilities, tomorrow you’re going to mandate it in private facilities,” Kern said.
Anyway, he called it a matter of “personal responsibility” for how those with disability issues should deal with the lack of changing tables.
“I don’t think it’s a big enough issue to mandate that public restrooms are accommodating to this,” Kern said.
Rep. Walt Blackman, R-Snowflake, said the issue is broader than that. And it is personal for him.
“I’m voting for this bill not only for the people in my district and Arizona but for those veterans that have been severely wounded in combat who have to use these facilities and have help while they’re using those facilities,” he said.
“Now that we have voted for this, a good buddy of mine who is in Washington right now will be able to come down and visit me,” Blackman explained. “And if he has to use facilities, because he was severely wounded in combat, will have the place to do it, and he’ll be able to keep his respect and dignity.”
And Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, disagreed with foes who said that such mandates are appropriate.
“My idea of a government function is taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves as we can,” she said. “This bill falls under that category.”
Griffin played a key role in getting the measure approved.
The original plan was pushed by Rep. Richard Andrade, D-Glendale. But his legislation got stuck in the House Rules Committee when Kern, who chairs that panel, refused to schedule it for a hearing.
So Griffin allowed Andrade to put his proposal onto one of her bills in the Senate, a bill that had already passed the House. That returned the now-amended bill to the full House, bypassing the Rules Committee and going straight to the floor.
Andrade accepted the changes from his original plan.