It’s a flash flood of legislation

Published Jan. 22, 2010

Things are moving fast in this very short session. Many bills have been introduced, already had a hearing, and been passed out of their committee, waiting for a floor vote to move to the other chamber and go through the process again. Some of the bills are wonderful ideas such as changing language in state law (HB 2490) and recommending Congress do the same (HJM 4024) to eliminate the “R” word. HB 2801 expands tools, information & strategies for anti-harassment in public schools. There are other bills protecting vulnerable students and vulnerable adults as well as protecting individuals with developmental disabilities from becoming homeless when they leave a Residential Habilitation Center.

Some bills are a bad idea such as HB 2955, which would require a means test (income limit) for families receiving services through the Individual and Family Services program. This program provides respite to families caring for a loved one with developmental disabilities at home. It also helps pay for some therapies and in-home modifications. Means testing has been tried before. It saves no money and uses valuable case manager time to collect and evaluate family incomes.

It is also inequitable for families who choose to care for their child at home to be means tested for this small amount of support when families who choose the state Residential Habilitation Centers for their child (at a much higher cost to the state) are not means tested. You can help stop this bill by calling committee members now. Check out the Action Alert.

The deficit is still a huge question.

We still are facing at least a $2.6 billion deficit. The Economic & Revenue Forecast Council will meet on February 12th for the next revenue review.  The House and the Senate budget staff are working hard to decide which recommendations from the Governor’s budget proposals they will want to keep and what other ideas they may want to include instead. Keep posted for their budget proposals. There are still many areas in the DD budget that are proposed to be eliminated or reduced by the Governor that it is important to advocate to protect now so they don’t end up in the final budget. See a more comprehensive chart of the Governor’s proposed budget.

Advocacy Days are here again!

The Thirtieth Annual Disabilities Legislative Reception was held last Wednesday evening in Olympia. The Autism Society of Washington held their annual Autism Awareness Day earlier that day with a record attendance. Several legislators spoke about their support for individuals and families with autism, families shared personal stories and individuals on the autism spectrum rallied the crowd as well. A brief summary of current developmental disability issues was also well attended that afternoon with many new faces coming to Olympia that day. Individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and their providers wanted their concerns to be heard.

This Wednesday starts the 2010 Advocacy Days. Last year blue scarves were provided at the Independent Living Day rally to advocates for developmental disability services in the community. If you still have your scarf, you are encouraged to wear it each time you come to Olympia. If you don’t yet have one try to wear blue colors. Last year we only provided blue scarves to advocates, this Wednesday we will be providing a blue scarf with a “Develop Abilities” button on it to each legislator. Come to Advocacy Day on Wednesday and help us distribute them to legislators.

Many community advocacy groups have pins or buttons that represent their voice. You can help deliver those to all legislators with your personal message and ask them to add the button or pin to their blue scarf. This is a great way to show unity and help legislators recognize the need. To learn more about Advocacy Day go to

Make sure to come to the rally on the February 24th Advocacy Day where we will be providing more blue scarves to advocates (there is no cost to you). Last year we had more than 700 rally participants in blue scarves on the capitol steps. This year we want to reach 1,000 participants so plan ahead!

What can you do to help?

The Arc of Washington State has an Action E-list you can sign up for that makes it very easy for you to let your legislators know what is most important to you. When bills or budget items need emails or phone calls targeted to your legislator you will receive an email with basic information about the issues and a suggested email you can revise or just send that will go directly to your legislator from you with just the click of a button.

You can also participate in this process by letters, phone, email and personal visits to ask legislators to make sure that bills or budget items you are most concerned about get heard.

Don’t forget to check the Olympia Insider every week for new podcasts, and to subscribe using iTunes or another RSS tool in order to be notified automatically when something new is posted. Remember you can download these to your video-enabled handheld devices!

Advocacy Day needs you there because change is made by those who show up!

Diana Stadden
Arc of Washington State
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator