CARSON CITY, NV (KOLO) - As adults we want to make our own decisions. That is the same with adults who have physical or mental challenges and who want to live as independently as possible.
“I am in the pilot's seat and have the ability to make the important decisions that relate to me,” says Sandra Perez, a Las Vegas resident who has some physical challenges of her own.
Perez made her comments May 2, 2019 at a Nevada Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting considering "Supported Decision-Making Agreements."
Assembly Bill 480 has already made it out of the Assembly.
It now faces scrutiny by Nevada Senators who are being asked to recognize a disabled adult's right to set up an agreement, and designate one or more people to support or aid in those decisions and activities.
"It is critical that we as the state recognize the human rights issue and the constitutional rights issue that this document simply records,” says Judge Egan Walker with Washoe District Court.
Judge Walker testified in favor of AB480.
Currently in Nevada, children with physical or mental challenges often enter adulthood with their parents encouraged to become legal guardians of those adult children.
It means finances, medical decisions, living arrangements, relationships are all out of the hands of the adult child.
"I have Down Syndrome," Ian Zaner told the Senate Judiciary Committee during testimony. He explained what AB480 meant to him.
“AB480 would help me to choose the people I trust to help me with my life and still live independently,” he testified.
If approved, AB480 would recognize Ian's and others’ decision-making agreements so their wishes and desires are respected above all others in their lives.
Parents who testified said seeing their children grow up and live on their own has its own set of challenges. But this bill, they said, allows these adults to live in the real world.
“The dignity of risk. So we don't all make good decisions all the time,” says Mary Bryant, mom to Kailin Keiderman, a 24-year-old with Down Syndrome.
Eilish Kelderman says the old ways of automatic guardianship just would not work with her and her sister.
“Obviously she doesn't want her younger sister telling her what to do,” say Eilish.
Kailin testified in front of the committee as well. She made sure members knew exactly what the bill would accomplish for adults like her, and the message it sends to family members who support her.
“To make decisions of their own, so they don't work for me,” says Kailin.
One stumbling block is how the medical community would be impacted by the bill if it were to become law. Medical professionals often won’t treat adults with physical and mental challenges without a legal adult guardian on board. Under AB480, those medical professionals will not be held civilly or criminally liable in Nevada for following the direction of the decision-making agreement.
Copyright KOLO-TV 2019