National Legislative Seminar

Each winter the national affiliate, American Council of the Blind (ACB) host the National Legislative Seminar's held in Washington D.C. After two days of information all the state delegates converge on Capitol Hill to meet with their U.S. Senators and U.S. Congressman.

The 2012 Legislative Imperatives can be found here.

The 2011 Legislative Imperatives can be found here.

The 2010 Legislative Imperatives can be found here.

The 2009 Legislative Imperatives can be found here.

The 2008 Legislative Imperatives can be found here.

If you are interested in finding and following a bill as it move thought the legislative process, the Tennessee General Assembly website has the information and the tools needed to keep up-to-date and well informed.

Man Denied Hotel Room For Bringing Guide Dog

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - A blind man claims he was denied a room at the Clarksville Microtel Inn and Suites for trying to bring his guide dog in, too. It appears to be a violation of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.

Michael Turner, 37, a Clarksville native currently studying in Boulder, CO, said the hotel clerk called 911 on him August 10, 2009. Turner also called police since the hotel staff, in his words, was violating his civil rights.

The managing attorney at the Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee, Martha M. Lafferty, could not comment on the Turner case per se, but she was willing to talk in generalities.

"Hotels are required to allow people who use service animals to bring those service animals with them," said Lafferty.

Turner said Microtel staffers likely thought his dog, Amberz, was really a pet. Turner has leaned on assistance from guide dogs, like Amberz, since 1999 when a motorcycle crash in Clarksville claimed his eyesight.

"Service animals are not pets, ever," said Lafferty. "Service animals are like wheelchairs. You wouldn't refuse somebody in a wheelchair. So, why would you refuse somebody with a service animal?"

The Center advises people with disabilities, who feel they are being discriminated against, to call authorities and file a police report. That's exactly what Turner did last year.

"I did have a restaurant once where I did have to call the police," said Tricia Griggs, senior advocate for the Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee. "Another one where I was on the phone, calling the police."

Griggs teaches tolerance and sensitivity to the corporate world regarding people with disabilities.

The front desk employee who allegedly denied Turner a room is Becky Jo McHughes of Clarksville. She is still a Microtel staffer, and did not return NewsChannel 5's call to her home.

The management or the owner of the building on Holiday Drive also did not return NewsChannel 5 phone calls. Microtel corporate failed to comment, but did try to encourage the owner to contact NewsChannel 5 regarding the controversy.

"This type of discrimination has got to stop," said Turner in a taped telephone interview Friday. "I do not want anyone ever to feel like I felt the day, when I went into that hotel and had my disability smack me straight in the face, and felt like less of a person because of my disability."

Turner continues to consider a civil lawsuit while the case is set to go before a Montgomery County grand jury in March.

A misdemeanor charge could be leveled against hotel clerk Becky Jo McHughes, though it's not much more serious than a speeding ticket.

To watch the video clip, select this link.