Friday, April 30, 2010

State Success: Accessible Parking for People with Disabilities in South Carolina

Accessible parking is a serious issue for people living with multiple sclerosis and others with disabilities in South Carolina. In response, the South Carolina Government Relations Committee (GRC) began looking at this issue in 2007. Upon investigation, they found that the current SC Code of Law did not require accountability of physicians writing prescriptions for plates/placards, disability was not clearly defined, fines were not prohibitory, and access aisles were not included.

In addition, it was found that some able-bodied people were obtaining placards from physicians and using them illegally as a matter of convenience. That limited the available spaces for people who needed them. One idea was to include a photo on the placard. The current SC Code of Law also did not include disabilities such as MS in the definition of “handicapped.” The current law focused on visible physical disabilities, which prevented some people with MS from using a plate/placard.

SC GRC members and chapter staff provided testimony to Senate and House subcommittee hearings, along with the Disability Resource Center and the Upstate Accessible Parking Coalition. MS activists across teh state were called to action. When SC Advocacy Day came around in April 2009, the bill had some movement and MS activists kept pushing it forward. They spoke with 55 member of the state House, and left information for 69 others. It worked.

The bill (S.126) was ratified and signed by the governor on June 2, 2009. The changes to the SC Code of Law were enacted on December 2, 2009.

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