Woodmere hosts state legislative committee hearing

Posted 3/28/24

The subject was "Michael’s Law," a bill calling for public venues to not charge admission fees for personal care attendants accompanying individuals with disabilities.

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Woodmere hosts state legislative committee hearing


About 150 students from Jenks Academy for Arts and Sciences and other schools attended a hearing of the Pennsylvania House Tourism and Economic and Recreational Development hosted by Woodmere Art Museum on March 21, about whether policies at museums like Woodmere should charge admission to personal care assistants. 

"Michael’s Law," a bill introduced by state Rep. Tarik Khan, proposes that public venues like Woodmere should not charge admission fees for personal care attendants accompanying individuals with disabilities.

Named in tribute to Michael Anderson, a Pennsylvania resident with cerebral palsy who faced the financial burden of paying double fees at a museum for himself and his essential personal care aide, the bill seeks to alleviate such financial strains. Khan emphasized the unfairness of the current system, drawing a parallel to not charging emergency medical technicians for entry in emergency situations, underscoring the necessity of access without financial penalty for those requiring personal care support.

The hearing, chaired by state Rep. Mary Jo Daley of Montgomery County, highlighted the broader implications of the bill, which aims to facilitate access to various cultural and recreational venues for those with disabilities, ensuring they can be accompanied by their caregivers without incurring additional costs.

Key testimonies were delivered by individuals directly impacted by the current policies, including Michael Anderson, an advocate for the ARC of Philadelphia, alongside his father; Dr. Josie Badger, a specialist in healthcare ethics and rehabilitation counseling; Rusty Baker, representing PA Museums, and Bill Valerio, who heads the Woodmere Art Museum.

The event also saw participation from the local community, with students and teachers from nearby public schools in attendance, invited by Rep. Khan to witness the discussions.

Attached is a photo of the Woodmere policy hearing on my bill “Michael’s Law” HB 1104, which would waive admission fees for caregivers of persons with disabilities for entry at venues across the Commonwealth. The panel of legislators is on the left, and on the panel is Bill Valerio, Director and CEO of Woodmere, Rusty Baker, Executive Director for Pennsylvania Museums, Mark Anderson (parent) and Michael Anderson, self-advocate.  This occurred March 21 at 10 am at Woodmere. In the background are nearly 150 students from JS Jenks, WB Saul High School, and Lankenau Environmental Science Magnet High School.