The Arc Wisconsin and other disability and aging organizations coordinated an informational session for legislators and their staffers on Medicaid and the health care legislation being considered by Congress. The information session was co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Weatherson and Beth Meyers, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, respectively. Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin served as an expert speaker, and David Boelter, Executive Director of The Arc Fond du Lac, served as a panelist. Read more about the briefing here.
The Arc New Jersey, as part of the Coalition for a DSP Living Wage, organized a group of more than 50 family members, self-advocates, providers, and DSPs to visit the State House and advocate for higher wages for DSPs. They met with at least 50 elected officials, including Senate President Steve Sweeney and members of both Budget Committees. For more information, visit the Coalition Facebook page.
The Arc New Jersey has been vigorously advocating for a DSP wage increase. Executive Director Tom Baffuto testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the issue. He explained that low wages create a barrier to recruitment and retention and that “Although the proposed budget recognizes the need for increased service dollars, those dollars do not help the system if we don’t have the necessary staff to deliver the services.” Additionally, advocates from The Arc New Jersey have been meeting with members of the Assembly Budget Committee.
The Arc of Indiana and INARF (another Indiana disability organization) recently organized a luncheon at the State House for freshmen legislators in order to educate new lawmakers on the priorities and concerns of the disability community.
The Arc of Virginia along with many self-advocates and family members attended a public hearing about the state budget this week before the General Assembly in order to protest budget cuts to I/DD services. Several speakers relayed stories of having to wait a decade or more for services because their family members don’t qualify. Others raised the importance of increasing DSP wages to support community living. Prior to the hearing, the chapter produced a 2017 Budget Hearing Guide that included a toolkit for advocates on how best to provide feedback on the budget, specific waitlist numbers, and letter-writing tips, among other resources.
The Arc of Minnesota has issued its 2017 public policy priorities. These include, among others, implementing new employment services, expanding consumer-directed community supports, and increasing funding for housing. On January 10, The Arc of Minnesota and the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance will host the first “Tuesday at the Capitol” of the new legislative session where they will provide a brief update on legislative priorities, distribute fact sheets, and hold a press conference. This will also present an opportunity for members of The Arc of Minnesota to meet with their state legislators.
Have you wanted to become more active in public policy but didn’t know where to start? Are you concerned about the future of supports and services for people with disabilities and their families? Do you want to learn how your voice and your story can impact laws at the state and federal level? Then join The Arc Tennessee for its new webinar series: “The Power of Advocacy: The Arc Tennessee Public Policy Advocacy Webinar Series.” Topics will include:
- Overview of the legislative process – state and federal
- Navigating the Tennessee General Assembly website
- Developing relationships with your elected officials
- Coalition building
The Arc of New Mexico is involved in planning two events at the upcoming legislative session. The Disability Coalition, of which The Arc of New Mexico is a part, is planning a “Pre-Legislative-Session Forum and Legislative Advocacy Training” on January 7 to teach advocates about upcoming issues and how to advocate to your legislators. Additionally, The Arc of New Mexico is hosting a Disability Rights Awareness Day on February 23-24 at the state capitol, which includes visits with legislators and a rally.
In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, The Arc of New Jersey brought family caregivers to the State House to discuss their challenges and priorities, such as the DSP workforce crisis. In total, they met with over 40 legislators. Assemblyman Gordon Johnson presented families with a joint Senate/Assembly resolution recognizing National Family Caregivers Awareness Month. To see more pictures from the annual Family Caregiver event, click here.