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No phone tag involved in this game

A lot of communication goes into drafting state bills. But when half of the people involved don’t use phones, that communication becomes difficult.

Chad Zuleger, legislative aide for state Rep. Kathleen Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, said he has run into that problem drafting a bill to help Amish homeowners in Eau Claire County avoid evictions.

The bill, AB 499, would exempt Amish homes statewide from portions of the state uniform dwelling code that require modern plumbing fixtures and the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The Amish object to those requirements because of their religion, Zuleger said, but they also object to phones.

So when he needs to get in touch with them, he calls a nearby tax attorney who has worked with the Amish community for many years. Even the Amish, Zuleger said, pay taxes.

So getting information from the Amish community, he said, becomes a prolonged process of relaying questions and answers through the attorney. Adding to the difficulty, he said, is the fact that English is a second language for many of the Amish in Eau Claire County; their primary language is German.

I also ran into this problem trying to talk to members of the Amish community for a story I wrote about the bills on Thursday.

I ended up getting copies of written testimony some members of the community presented at a public hearing earlier this month, so I was able to include some of their comments in the story. But I’ve also asked Zuleger to ask the attorney to ask the Amish community if they would be willing to talk to me, an odd version of the game of telephone with people who don’t use telephones.

I’ll let you know what they say.

About Beth Kevit

Beth Kevit is the Milwaukee city beat reporter and also covers real estate. She can be reached at [email protected] or 414-225-1820.

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