To the editor:
Kenley Brunsdale has attacked an amendment offered by Rep. James Hansen to the American's With Disabilities Act (ADA) as being "unnecessary," and further tried to imply the Hansen amendment was never passed. Allow me to set the record straight.Last year, Hansen received several complaints, in person, by letter and by phone, from handicapped individuals who were being restricted from accessing public lands, wilderness areas in particular. As a result, he drafted legislation that would allow wheelchairs into wilderness areas, where all forms of mechanical transport are banned by law.
Detractors say that federal land managers have regulations that allow wheelchairs in wilderness. Yet according to legal counsel for the Congressional Research Service, both Bureau of Land Management regulations and Forest Service regulations "implicitly prohibit wheelchair use as a form of mechanized transport."
The House Rules Committee looked at 45 different amendments to the ADA. To be allowed for floor consideration, an amendment had to be both germane to the Disabilities Act and a proven need for the amendment demonstrated to the committee. Only eight, including Hansen's, met both criteria, and of the eight, only three eventually became law.
Brunsdale further attacks Hansen's amendment saying it was really an amendment offered by Bruce Vento since Vento offered substitute language. The substitute language clarified the intent of the amendment and was in fact written by Hansen.
Press/legislative aide to Rep. Hansen