3 year old Cooper Veloudis and his family were in Frankfort today for a bill named for him.
“I find myself…ladies and gentlemen, on the side of special needs children,” Rep. Richard Henderson told lawmakers in the House local government committee.
House bill 160 addresses the controversy after the Veloudis family were told by their homeowner’s association that the playhouse they put up to help Cooper with his disability was in violation. Cooper’s mom thinks they’ve been singled out.
“They (HOA) said we’re the only ones in violation. We’re not…we’re the only ones being persecuted,” said Tiffiney Veloudis, Cooper’s mother, in her testimony before lawmakers.
Yet some still claim it’s not a state issue. And some took offense to Cooper being there for the debate.
“He and Mrs. Veloudis are literally holding up Cooper, trying to influence you,” said Dr. Deborah Slayton, who spoke out against the legislation.
“Cooper being here is because they didn’t have a babysitter and they’re heading to Cincinnati,” said Rep. Henderson on why the Veloudis family brought Cooper to the committee meeting.
Last week too many lawmakers passed up on voting for the issue and it couldn’t get enough yes votes. Wednesday, 9 members cast 'yes' votes to get it out of committee.
Including Rep. Rita Smart who changed her vote from 'pass' to 'yes.'
“I’m not an attorney, not a realtor…I’m a grandmother..and I have special needs children in my family,” said Rep. Smart, D-Richmond.
After the vote..Represenative Henderson, the bill's sponsor, called the victory a win for special needs children.
“I came here for kids…I’ve lost nieces and nephews…I’m here for the kids,” said Henderson, D-Jeffersonville, who says the bill was his idea, not the Veloudis family.
But Cooper’s parents agree the bill is needed to set a precedent for others.
“Kentucky needs to be looked at as progressive state that wants to protect their disabled children,” said George Veloudis, Cooper’s father.
The bill now goes on to the full House….where its fate is uncertain.