It's been nothing less than a heartbreaking afternoon inside the Capitol Auditorium of the Idaho Statehouse. That's where the joint committees of Health and Welfare from both the House and Senate have begun to consider House Bill 221.
More than 100 people have signed up to testify, and with scant exceptions, most witnesses are pleading with lawmakers not to advance the measure. The most controversial element of the plan is a proposal to move Idaho adults 45 and older into a category where they could lose active treatment and/or developmental therapy.
Many of those testifying have fought tears while speaking. Here's a sample:
Crystal Anderson (parent of adult male with extreme mental and physical disabilities): "My child's future is now in jeopardy. He can't function without extra help. I'm pleading with you to represent me."
Taryn Ivey (parent of adult female with pervasive developmental delay, which is a form of autism): "I'm scared to death what might happen to her. I realize that we have to have a balanced budget but I'm begging you to look at who this might affect."
Angie Martinez (niece of 63-year-old adult woman who is mentally retarded): "We never asked for help until her health had dramatically declined. But now, my husband has left his job to become her provider. But because she's 63, she would be cut off. Do we want to be known as a state that discriminates against developmentally disabled over 45?"