Sen. Marty Knollenberg
Sen. Marty Knollenberg

LANSING, Mich. — The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Tuesday approved legislation that would allow physical therapists to issue handicapped parking permits to patients who meet certain criteria.

“Under current law, physical therapists are not able to determine if a patient with limited mobility needs special parking privileges,” said Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, the bill’s sponsor. “It seems to me that someone who is highly trained to determine the status of an individual’s physical ability ought to be able to do that.”

Senate Bill 582 would give physical therapists the same ability as physicians, physician assistants, and certified nurse practitioners to determine a person’s disability status with regard to parking permits and license plates. Under the bill, physical therapists would be able to issue free parking stickers, disability parking windshield placards, plates and tabs.

An applicant qualifies for a free parking sticker if they have a valid driver’s license and use a wheelchair, suffer from limited extremity movement, or are unable walk more than 20 feet due to an orthopedic, neurological, cardiovascular, or lung condition that dramatically impedes the ability to walk.

Supporters argue that physical therapists must complete a four-year degree, three or four years of post-graduate education and several weeks of on-the-job internships — making them highly trained to detect these types of limitations and determine viable solutions.

Knollenberg agreed.

“It only makes sense that if a physical therapist considers someone’s mobility to be limited, they are able to issue the appropriate parking permit,” he said. “If passed, this bill will allow the state’s 10,000 licensed physical therapists to issue special parking permits, which will increase access for our seniors and others who struggle with a disability.”

SB 582 will now go before the full House of Representatives for consideration.