What started as a request from a volunteer at YOPAS (YMCA’s Outreach Program for Ahwatukee Seniors) has now become law in the state of Arizona.
Senate Bill 1093 allows the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to provide disabled windshield placards to nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to senior citizens. The bill was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 30.
The bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate.
Any nonprofit that receives placards must keep a record of the volunteers that use them. Three placards have already been given to YOPAS.
YOPAS provides non-medical help to Ahwatukee seniors, mainly with transportation to appointments or to run errands.
Charlene Redpath, a volunteer for YOPAS, noticed that many times those seniors who could get a placard from a doctor for their own use often forgot it when riding with a volunteer. That would force a volunteer to drop their client off at the door and then get back in their car to find parking some distance away. After finding no help from the city, Redpath approached another YOPAS volunteer, Karen McComish, to see if there was anything her husband could do to help.
Sen. John McComish said working on this bill to help a local charity was refreshing.
“It’s a bill that is going to help local people.” McComish said. “They’re volunteers and trying to do good work so it makes me feel good being able to help them.
“What we normally do is bigger picture. The connection to the people they help isn’t quite so obvious and apparent and right in front of you. Being able to help a local organization really feels good. I’m excited about that more than I am about some bigger picture bills.”
The law requires that organizations interested in obtaining a disabled parking placard fill out a form provided by ADOT. ADOT is working to update its policies and forms and expect the changes to be implemented in September.
Individuals interested in getting a placard for themselves must be unable to walk more than 200 feet without stopping to rest; unable to walk without assistance from another person, a cane, crutch or wheelchair; have lung disease; use portable oxygen; have some cardiac conditions; or have severely limited ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition. Individuals would need to have their doctor fill out a form, which can be taken to the Motor Vehicle Department for a placard.
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