Disability Advocacy Updates

Here is a round up of issues from Access Living’s Director of Advocacy, Amber Smock, sent April 8, 2016.

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

It has been a very busy week! We have a number of things to share with you, as follows:

• This week, a Federal judge ordered the State of Illinois to provide home- and community-based care for children with medically complex issues. This is fantastic! Kudos to the families and attorneys who secured this win. Read more at this link .
• HB 4351, the bill to raise the wages of workers in the Home Services Program to $15, advanced from the State Senate Human Services Committee to the Senate floor. Kudos to our personal attendants!
• The Arc of Illinois has alerted us that there will be a hearing in the Senate Human Services Committee for SB 2952, the Direct Service Professional (DSP) $15 an hour wage bill on Tuesday, April 12, in Room 409 of the Capitol in Springfield. DSPs are an important option of support for people with developmental disabilities. You can fill out a witness slip as a “proponent” making a “record of appearance only” at this link . There will also be a hearing for HB 5931, the House version of this bill, in the House Appropriations Human Services Committee on Wednesday, April 13th, 10:00 a.m. in Capitol Room 114 Springfield. You can submit a witness slip as a “proponent” making a “record of appearance only” for House Bill 5931 .
• Voters with disabilities are being asked to share their experiences with the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which will hold a public hearing in Washington, DC, to receive testimony from election administrators and voters with disabilities about accessible voting and the progress made since passage of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The objective of the hearing is to hear from voters with disabilities regarding their voting experiences, highlight EAC resources, and help election officials prepare for the 2016 elections. In advance of the hearing, voters with disabilities are encouraged to share their experiences with accessible voting with the EAC. You may submit your written testimony to the EAC to be included as part of the transcript. Please email: listen@eac.gov and place "testimony" in the subject line.
• On the state budget, SB 2059, the bill that contains the three main funding areas affecting Access Living directly, is still pending in the House. Those three items are a) Independent Living Funding GRF, b) the remaining funding for the Long Term Care Ombudsman which would fund our Home and Community Ombudsmen, and c) the Department on Aging’s Balancing Incentive Program funding, which would help our Nursing Home Deflection Program. Yesterday, Senator Radogno introduced a new budget bill, SB 3418, which has funding for the first two items but not the third. As always we continue to monitor the budget situation.
• On Wednesday, April 13, expect to see Access Living’s community advocates down at the State Capitol! Around 30 Access Living staff and community members will ride Amtrak to visit their legislators’ offices.

Busy days, Illinois. Even though it’s Friday, the work never ends!