It now comes down to the money

Published Feb. 11, 2008

Last week we reached the cutoff for the bills we’re watching to be passed out of the policy committee they originated in. Now, in order to stay alive, they have a very short time frame in which they also have to be passed out of the fiscal committee they originated in, as that cut-off is tomorrow (2/12). The House Appropriations Committee has nearly fifty bills to consider for Executive session today (last week they had twelve). The Senate Ways and Means Committee has nearly as many scheduled for public hearing and possible executive session. If you have a bill that is important to you and it has a fiscal note attached, now is the time to let your legislators know that.

If a bill makes it through both the policy committee and the fiscal committee it has one more week (until 2/19) to be voted on the Floor and passed to the other House to start the process all over again. If you have a bill important to you that has been making it through this process be sure to say “Thank you!” to your legislators. That is something they never hear enough, but can go a long way to leaving a favorable impression when you come to them next time.

Another factor that will affect the bills with a fiscal note is the state’s revenue forecast, due to be released on Friday. Legislators are already talking to each other about their priorities, but how much they will include in their budgets will depend on the state’s forecast. Be sure to let legislators know which bills are most important, and if applicable, how passing the bill would save the state money in the long run.

The Advocacy Day theme last week revolved around the Disability History Month bills, SB 6313/HB 2599. The House bill died in the policy committee last week but the Senate version is still alive. The bill would have no fiscal impact and advocates have shared a sheet of free resources with legislators that school districts have available to teach students this valuable information. Advocates took rolled up scrolls on parchment paper sealed with a gold seal that shared information on this important piece of awareness to every legislator and the Governor. Inside the scrolls was the following:

Disability History Month in Washington State

SB 6313 / HB 2599

Creating a Disability History Month will expand the knowledge, awareness and understanding of the history of disability and the disability rights movement for the youth of today. This will promote more inclusion, reduce bullying and include an important and often overlooked piece of the civil and human rights movement in public education.

  • 1848 The Perkins Institution in Boston, Massachusetts, was the first residential institution for people with mental retardation.
  • 1886 An Act to establish a school for the “deaf, mute, blind, and feebleminded” youth of Washington Territory to be known as The Washington School for Defective Youth” in Vancouver, Washington.
  • 1945 President Harry Truman signed PL-176, National Employ the Handicapped Week.
  • 1963 President Kennedy called for a reduction “over a number of years and by hundreds of thousands, of persons confined” to residential institutions. This resulted in deinstitutionalization and increased community services.
  • 1975 The Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) required free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive setting.
  • 1981 The International Year of Disabled Persons began. During the year, governments were encouraged to sponsor programs bringing people with disabilities into the mainstream of their societies.
  • 1990 The Americans with Disabilities Act provided comprehensive civil rights protection for people with disabilities, the law was the most sweeping disability rights legislation in history.

Contact the Arc of Washington if you would like to learn more information about these bills.

What can you do to help?

You can participate in this process by phone, email and personal visits to help legislators move the bills on through the process before the Feb 12th fiscal committee cutoff. Advocacy Day will not be held at United Churches this week because of the Independent Living Day Rally being held on the capitol steps at 11:00 am.  Pre-rally registration/meeting will be in room #112, located on the same floor as the Columbia Room at 10 am.

We are changing minds and changing perspectives in a positive way, so remember, Change is made by those who show up, so keep on showing up!

Hoping for a great revenue forecast,

Diana Stadden
Arc of Washington State
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator