Advocacy

Advocacy

Advocacy can mean many things both in regard to what and the how. The what for us is—working toward policies, funding, laws, regulations and other types of outcomes which advance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families (see our mission here ). On a simple level, the “how” means encouraging, pleading, urging, and providing justification. But it gets more complex when you apply the “how” to “where”. There is the administration of the state or federal government, the legislature, the courts, school committees, etc.

The advancements of our present age didn’t come easily and require vigilance and yes, advocacy. Further advocacy for our cause requires people –anyone who cares about disabilities and wishes to build a good life in the community. Services cost dollars, rights require laws and regulations and understanding takes public education. Much has been done, but there continues to be work to do. The Advocacy pages share areas in which we are most involved and tools. Our priorities evolve over time. This page provides an index of the section and government affairs headlines.

Take Action- Alerts and Reaching Legislators Advocacy Tools- Helpful Guides and Fact Sheets
Policy Issues – A Variety of Key Issues Insider’s View – Comments from Policy Makers
State Budget – Tracking our Budget Process GA Committee Opportunity to Participate
Bill Priorities – Tracking Legislation – Laws

Headlines

Contact Your Legislators Today: Support a Strong FY2020 Budget!

The FY2020 budget is currently in Conference Committee and we need your help so that the highest amount of funding possible for our priorities is agreed upon by the two branches. The Conference Committee is composed of the House and Senate Ways and Means Chairs, Senator Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, and Vice-Chairs, Senator Cindy Friedman and Rep. Denise Garlick, and Senior minority members, Senator Viriato deMacedo and Rep. Todd Smola, to resolve differences in the House and Senate budgets and draft a compromise budget proposal.

We are grateful for the continued funding for the Turning-22 program, which supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) now graduating from high school in need of adult services. And for the increase in the DESE-DDS line item, which helps families stay together when a child is at risk of an out of home placement. We are also thankful for the boost of $300,000 above the Governor’s budget for the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI), which provides more access to college courses and learning opportunities for people with autism or I/DD.

In addition, the Senate budget included $500,000 for the Autism Children’s Waiver which is also in front of the Conference Committee. The transportation amendment for $750,000 was accepted and will service another 125 individuals. These are all critical line items that impact our community across the lifespan.

However, there are still significant shortfalls for the disability community.

Please take a few minutes to use our customizable template to reach out to your legislator and ask him or her to support our Budget Line items in Conference.

Contact Your Legislators   

The following line-items are under consideration:

1. $3.5 million (House) in Family Support and Respite: DDS Line item 5920-3000
Although 12,000 served, many receive minimal funding, while another 8,000 unserved.

2. $3.4 million (House) in Community Day and Employment: DDS Line item 5920-2025
895 people are being served but not getting enough hours, 300 people are not getting employment services and funding is needed to addressing changing needs, staffing ratios due to transition from sheltered workshops, and, compliance with Olmstead and CMS regulations.

3. $2.5 million (House) in Autism Omnibus: DDS Line Item 5920-3020
Turning-22 is being addressed, but other individuals with autism who are older are not yet receiving funding. We request an additional $2.5 million for the over 500 individuals not currently served.

4. $100,000 (Senate) for Aging with Developmental Disabilities: DDS Line Item 5920-3025
Thousands of individuals with DD are over the age of 40 and need more assistance.

Negotiations for the Compromise Budget of the House and Senate will begin next week so your advocacy and action are needed soon. We encourage all to contact your legislators by Friday, June 7th. Using the draft letter below, please contact your Representative and Senator to reach out to the Conference Committee re: these four important line items, customizing the letter with your personal experiences.

Contact Your Legislators   

If you wish to reach out for further advocacy, the main number at the state house is (617) 722-2000 to reach all House & Senate members.

Thank you for taking time to affect change for people with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities!

Contact Your Legislators   

Posted in , , | Posted on May 31, 2019 | Leave a comment Continue reading

Conference Committee to Begin Deliberations

The Senate and the House are moving into the final stages of their work on the FY’20 budget. Both chambers have finalized their budgets and the remaining work rests with the Conference Committee that must settle the differences of each line item from each budget.

The Conference Committee is made of three members each from the Senate and House Ways and Means Committees.  This includes the Chair and Vice Chair of each committee and the ranking minority member from each committee.  The Conference Committee members include Senators Michael Rodrigues, Cindy Friedman, and Vinny deMacedo; as well as Representatives Aaron Michlewitz, Denise Garlick, and Todd Smola.

We are watching closely four DDS line items where three of the House final numbers were greater than the Senate numbers. The Respite and Family Support line item (5920-3000) in the House budget was $3.5M more than the Senate version. The Community Day and Work line item (5920-2025) in the House was $3.4M more than the Senate version. The Autism Omnibus line item (5920-3020) in the House was $2.5M more than the Senate version. Finally, the Aging with Developmental Disabilities line item (5920-3025) was $100K more in the Senate than in the House version.

Now is the time to reach out our Representatives and Senators, urging them to contact the Conference Committee members and to ask them to support the budget version that best serves individuals and families. Deliberations by the Conference Committee are slated to begin next week, so action now is important. Now is the time to call your legislator (617-722-2000).

Click the images of the Conference Committee members below to be taken to their legislative profile (including direct contact information).

Senator Michael Rodrigues

Senator Cindy Friedman

Senator Vinny deMacedo

Representative Aaron Michlewitz

Representative Denise Garlick

Representative Todd Smola

Posted in , , | Posted on May 29, 2019 | 1 Comment Continue reading

The Arc of Massachusetts Releases Conference Committee Requests

With the Senate budget deliberations finished up, The Arc has prepared our Conference Committee requests for our final advocacy push in the budget cycle. Here is a quick summary of our request to the chairs of Ways and Means and the other Conference Committee members.

We ask for their support for DDS funding as reflected below.

1. $3.5 million (House) in Family Support and Respite: DDS Line item 5920-3000
Although 12,000 served, many receive minimal funding, while another 8,000 unserved.

2. $3.4 million (House) in Community Day and Employment: DDS Line item 5920-2025
895 served but not getting enough hours, 300 are not getting employment services and funding is needed to addressing changing needs, staffing ratios due to transition from sheltered workshops, and, compliance with Olmstead and CMS regulations.

3. $2.5 million (House) in Autism Omnibus: DDS Line Item 5920-3020
Turning-22 is being addressed, but other individuals with autism who are older are not yet receiving funding. We request an additional $2.5 million for the over 500 individuals not currently served.

4. $100,000 (Senate) for Aging with Developmental Disabilities: DDS Line Item 5920-3025
Thousands of individuals with DD are over the age of 40 and need more assistance.

Any questions? Contact Maura at sullivan@arcmass.org and stay tuned for an action alert with a template letter coming this week.

Posted in , , | Posted on May 28, 2019 | Leave a comment Continue reading

Legislative Update: Senate Budget Amendments and Workforce Cosponsors

It’s been a busy couple weeks with amendments filed and the Senate budget deliberations beginning.

The Arc’s Workforce Initiative Legislation, HD 1130, filed by Representative Denise Garlick, was also released from House Council with final language. Representatives and Senators had an opportunity to sign on as cosponors. With the help of our community advocates, we increased cosponsorship by another 21 legislators, totaling 81 cosponsors for this priority legislation.

Thank you to all the advocates in our community for the nearly 450 letters generated related to the Workforce bill and the Senate Budget Amendments.

At this time, we can report that the Senate accepted our Transportation amendment filed by Senator Welch for $750,000. These additional funds will serve 125 more individuals with transportation needs.

Unfortunately, the Community Day and Employment and Adult Autism amendment were rejected, along with Adult Foster Care (AFC). Stay tuned to The Arc for a full Senate budget analysis and our specific advocacy requests as we move into Conference Committee.

We will be requesting three Conference Committee Amendments including Family Support, Community Day and Employment and Adult Autism.

If you have any questions, please contact Maura at Sullivan@arcmass.org.

Posted in , , , | Posted on May 23, 2019 | Leave a comment Continue reading

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