ction Alert: Veto Session, Fight for Developmental Disabilities and Senior Services

Here is an Action Alert from Access Living Advocacy Director Amber Smock. Today, Smock and others are in Springfield to support legislation that would strengthen community supports for seniors and people with disabilities.

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Today, the Illinois legislature returns to Springfield for the first day of veto session. We'd like to tell you a little more about why we're in an interesting legislative period, and about two important action alerts (links for easy access: DSP wage bill and Community Care Protection bill ).

For those who may be less familiar with how the Illinois legislature works: the time after a state election in November and before inauguration of new legislators the following January is known as the "lame duck" period. During this period, there is a short veto session, and then a lame duck session. Veto session starts today and goes through Thursday of this week, and then the second half is Tuesday, November 29 to Thursday, December 1.

The main purpose of veto session is to allow legislators the chance to consider whether to override any legislation that the Governor vetoed during the past summer. In order to override the veto, three fifths of both the House and the Senate must vote for override. Thus, it is quite tough to overcome a Governor's veto.

Lame duck session will be in January, but the exact dates have not yet been posted to www.ilga.gov . "Lame duck" legislators are those who are stepping down before the January inauguration, either because they didn't run for re-election, or they were defeated during election. The lame duck legislators this cycle are Senators Noland (D), J. Sullivan (D), and Luechtefeld (R), and Representatives Acevedo (D), Dunkin (D), Reaves-Harris (D), E. Sullivan (R), Franks (D), Tryon (R), Verschoore (D), Leitch (R), Moffitt (R), Brown (R), and Jackson (D).

So now, heads up! The first action alert we'd like to bring to your attention is House Bill (HB) 5931, the bill that would enable developmental disabilities services providers to pay Direct Support Providers (DSPs) a wage of $15 per hour. Many make less than $10 per hour, which presents a huge difficulty in recruiting and retaining quality DSPs who help people with developmental disabilities to live as integrated a life as possible in community settings. To contact your legislators and ask for an override vote for HB 5931, please use this link . A vote is expected on Wednesday so this is urgent!

Our second action alert is for HB 4351, known now as the Community Care Protection Bill (formerly as the DON score bill). This bill, in addition to preserving the minimum home services assessment score at 29, would prevent the State from removing 43,000 non-Medicaid eligible seniors from the Community Care Program, cutting their services in half, all while requiring a co-pay. To contact your legislators and ask for an override vote for HB 4351, please use this link .

For those of you wondering what our legislators will do to pass a budget during veto session: the answer is that it would take a miracle to see action before December 31. We, along with many other advocates, are hoping that our legislators will act as soon as possible in January to pass a bill for the second half of this fiscal year's funding. Please continue to educate your legislators about important funding needs.

Let's go Illinois! Stay tuned for a lot of action alert activity this week.