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New England News

Vermont Bill Would Remove Hurtful Words from Laws

A Vermont House committee is taking testimony on a bill that would update Vermont's sometimes centuries-old laws to remove words like "imbecile" and "idiot" and replace them with more modern and respectful language.

But those testifying before the House Government Operations Committee on Thursday said the process has been difficult because sometimes language changes can have unintended consequences.

Susan Wehry, commissioner of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, said one such change likely would have the effect of committing more people to the care and custody of the mental health commissioner.

A law passed in 2010 called for a special committee to study language changes and it's now reported back. The bill under consideration, which has already passed the Senate, would put the panel's recommended changes into law.

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