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Every fall, BPDD conducts the Take Your Legislator to Work Campaign to raise awareness about the importance of community-integrated employment for people with disabilities in Wisconsin. Conducted in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October), the campaign highlights how everyone wins when people with disabilities have community-integrated jobs at a competitive wage. When people with disabilities are employed in the community, they are more likely to be independent, pay taxes, and contribute to the local economy. They are also less likely to rely on publicly-funded programs and services. People with disabilities who are interested in participating in the campaign should get approval from your employer, fill out the application and BPDD will contact you. To begin, get your Get Started Kit, Information for Employers and your Participant Application. For more information, contact the BPDD - Take Your Legislator to Work Campaign
DAWN published the article that the Wisconsin Assembly will vote next week; take action now! The final decision on Family Care/IRIS expansion will be made by the Assembly next week. There is still a chance to end wait lists for people with disabilities and aging Wisconsin residents with long-term support needs so they can stay in their communities. Contact your Assembly member now using DAWN's Take Action tool. For more information on advocating on this issue and their Take Action Tool: visit, Family Care/Iris expansion
"Under the law, voters will still be asked to present an ID, and if they do not have one, they must sign an affidavit swearing not only that they do not have the forms of identification required under the law, but also declaring that they either are too poor to get an ID or cannot gather the necessary documentation." From "War on Democracy in Wisconsin: Bill Would Enact Voter ID, End Disclosure, Limit Early Voting, Expand Lobbyist Influence by Brendan Fischer — May 29, 2013, PRWatch
For people with disabilities who have difficulty getting to the DMV to obtain a voter ID, the representatives once again are missing all the reasons why obtaining a voter ID is difficult for people with disabilities. We are placing the burden again on the voter, instead of allowing their right to vote. If you feel it is unfair for a person with a disability to swear under penalty of perjury why they cannot get their ID please let your representative know.
DAWN issued the following article about the Committee to Vote on Photo ID Bill this Week This newly introduced bill could make voting more difficult for people with disabilities.This week, the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections will vote on Assembly Bill 225, which includes provisions that could impact voting accessibility for people with disabilities. The bill mandates that citizens present a photo ID to vote. Some people with disabilities don’t have a photo ID because – due to transportation challenges – they cannot get to the Department of Motor Vehicles, especially during office hours. The bill also restricts the hours of in-person absentee voting. People with disabilities are more likely than people without disabilities to vote in-person with an absentee ballot. People with disabilities utilize absentee ballots because it can be difficult to secure transportation on Election Day. Also, absentee ballots allow people with disabilities to avoid waiting in long lines, which can cause undue mental and physical stress. People who live in larger municipalities will be most-impacted by this restriction, since larger municipalities often hold weekend or extended evening hours to accommodate their larger populations. If you have concerns about this bill, use DAWN’s easy Take Action tool to contact your Assembly person today!
Legislators will address the Expansion of Family Care Joint Finance Committee to meet tomorrow – contact your legislators now!Tomorrow the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is scheduled to decide whether Family Care/IRIS can expand to seven counties in northeast Wisconsin. Family Care/IRIS provides community-based services to people with disabilities and older adults who need long-term support so they don’t have to live in institutions. Right now, waits for supports in those northeastern counties can last 10 years or more. Use DAWN’s easy Take Action tool now to contact your legislators and tell them to support Family Care expansion! The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s Budget Paper #327 cites several arguments in favor of the expansion of Family Care to northeast Wisconsin: Equal treatment of counties – the State has approved all previous requests for expansion from other counties Equal opportunity for consumers – residents of the northeast counties do not have the same opportunity to receive Family Care and IRIS as other people in Wisconsin Wisconsin’s commitment to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services – the Department of Health Services (DHS) made a formal commitment to the federal government to make Family Care statewide Cost savings – DHS capped Family Care expansion in 2011 in order to develop and implement cost savings strategies, which are now in place Unfair burden on taxpayers – taxpayers in the northeast counties have been helping to cover the cost of these programs in other counties for over a decade but are not receiving the benefits themselves; that’s not fair If you think Family Care should be expanded to northeast Wisconsin, contact your legislators now using the Take Action tool!
Tell Your Legislators to Support Families of Children with Disabilities. The Joint Finance Committee to meet next week – contact your legislators now!
Next week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will address the Department of Health Services budget, which includes children's long-term supports. Currently there is no motion to increase funding for children's long-term supports, which would take children with the most significant disabilities off wait lists and keep families together. Now is the time to take action on the children’s long-term supports waiting list! The Survival Coalition proposes increasing funding to take an additional 1,000 families off the waiting list. Survival also proposes increasing funding to provide for short-term service coordination for an additional 600 families so they can be connected with services outside the children’s long-term care system. Legislators need to hear from families in Wisconsin who are waiting for – and need access to – children’s long-term care supports. Legislators also need to hear from families who have received long-term care support and how it has helped them. If this issue is important to you, tell your legislators to contact JFC members and request a motion to increase funding for children’s long-term supports. Contact your legislators now.
For more information about this topic, check out the http://www.wi-bpdd.org/whoweare/2013wipolicystatements/CLTS.pdf Long-Term Supports for Children policy brief from Disability Rights Wisconsin.
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will address public education funding on Wednesday, May 29. Now is the time to contact your legislators and ask them to do what is best for students with disabilities in Wisconsin. Use DAWN's easy, Take Action tool for you to contact your legislators. The tool includes the talking points above and allows you to add your own messages. This is important as public funds will go to private schools without increasing their accountability. The bill directs money to come out of the individual 's public school district for every student who attends a private choice school in Racine and Milwaukee. Without accountability parents and the state have no way of knowing how their special needs student is benefitting from the private education and it takes needed funds from special education in the public schools that have been cut from the last state budget. For more information about the education issues being addressed, visit DAWN's article at JFC to Vote on Education Budget Wednesday
The ballot this spring includes many important races such as the State Supreme Court race, with current Justice Pat Roggensack is facing challenger Ed Fallone. Visit their websites for more information about their positions.
Also the State Superintendent of Public Instruction race (See next article below) as well as local officials like City Council, Mayor or School Board members. To find out exactly who will be on your ballot and where you vote, go to https://myvote.wi.gov/.
Photo identification is not needed to vote in this election. Voters will be asked to sign the poll book. Anyone who is not physically able to sign the poll book can be exempt from the requirement. If you are physically able, you can sign your name or use a mark or a stamp signature. A mark can be an “X.”
If you have any questions about registering to vote, accessible voting machines, the voting process, or your rights as a voter, contact the Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline at 800/928-8778 or 888/758-6049 (TTY/TEXTNET).
The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations will host Disability Advocacy Day on March 20, 2013. A day for you to connect with your legislators and share your story with them, tell them how legislative policies affect people with disabilities. The survival coalition will give a briefing and will set up your legislative visit. See the article at Disability Advocacy Day. You can register online or by submitting the registration form. The deadline to register is Wednesday, March 13.
Gov. Scott Walker plans to include special needs vouchers in his 2013-2015 State Budget that he will introduce Wednesday, February 20th. Families from around the state held a media event at the Capitol to share their concerns. View photos from this Media Event Join this grassroots group of families and their children with disabilities in asking the Wisconsin Legislature to take special needs vouchers out of the budget.
Efforts to improve outcomes for students with disabilities should include putting additional funds toward public school special education services instead of private school vouchers. Special needs vouchers could negatively affect students with disabilities and drain critical resources from small Wisconsin school districts. Families lose all their federal protections when they leave public schools, and private schools are not accountable for student outcomes. To learn more about concerns surrounding special needs vouchers, check out this comprehensive fact sheet.
Including special needs vouchers in the Governor’s budget does not allow for adequate public input on this important policy issue so contacting your legislators may be the only way for you to have input.
Your legislators are now considering the 2013-2015 State Budget and the many issues important to you! Issues like long-term care, employment, education, Medicaid, and transportation will be addressed by the Legislature as they develop the state budget. Start a conversation now with your legislators to ensure that they takes your needs and concerns into consideration. To help you better prepare for conversations with your legislators, the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) will hold regional budget trainings throughout the state. Locations and dates will be announced soon. You may also wish to review the WI BPDD's 2013-15 Budget Platform and the Survival Coalition's 2013-15 Biennial Budget Priorities. Do not let your future be decided without you!
The following article was sent by DAWN (Disability Advocates Wisconsin Network) The Congress and the President are negotiating over more than only taxes. If they cannot reach a decision by the beginning of January and if they add cuts to entitlement programs, besides the tax increases and federal spending cuts, there will be drastic cuts to discretionary programs that affect people with disabilities. If you are served by any of the programs relying on a fixed federal funding including those for people with disabilities mentioned below or are concerned about cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, please contact President Obama on his website or contact your Congressional Representative through their website. The House members can inform Speaker Boehner of their constituents’ opinions.
People with disabilities will be impacted in a variety of ways if Congress and the President do not reach agreement to change current law by the end of the year. A combination of federal spending cuts and tax increases will go into effect at the end of 2012 and beginning of January 2013 if no action is taken.If President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner cannot reach agreement, some taxes will increase, tax credits will expire, and federal unemployment benefits will end. While these actions are concerning, advocates are focused on drastic cuts to discretionary programs like general and special education, employment supports, and housing programs that people with disabilities rely on. Each program would be cut about 8 percent. Unlike entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, discretionary programs get a fixed sum of funding. If funds are cut, Wisconsin will receive less federal aid to support a wide range of programs, such as vocational rehabilitation. Services that assist all citizens will also be cut. Public safety and law enforcement, medical and scientific research, public health; and environmental protection are only a few examples of the services that will be cut is current law is not changed. The details about the bill to avoid the fiscal cliff are constantly changing. Some entitlement reforms are now under discussion. Congress and the President need to hear from constituents whether programs that serve people with disabilities, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and many of the discretionary programs need to remain strong without changes.
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