We are almost through the first part of the bill process

Published Mar. 3, 2009

Monday, March 2nd, was the cut-off for bills to get out of their fiscal committee. Many of the bills we have been working on have died at this point. Unless a bill that has not passed the fiscal committee ends up being Necessary To Implement the Budget (NTIB) it is finished for this year. Considering the huge budget deficit our state is up against, it is unlikely any of the bills will meet the NTIB criteria. To see the current status of bills check our web site at http://www.arcwa.org/leg_session.htm

Last week’s Advocacy Day focused on the Children’s Intensive In-home Behavior Supports program (CIIBS). This program will be provided through a Medicaid waiver to 100 children who are clients of the Division of Developmental Disabilities and have severe behavioral issues that put them at risk of being placed in an institution. The program is currently funded and ready to go, but is waiting for approval from the federal government on the waiver rules. The legislative issue is that the program was funded last year through a proviso, but was not put into state law to make it a permanent program. SB 5117 and HB 1226 are both in their Rules committee waiting for a vote on the floor.

The CIIBS program is just one option for those who want to live in the community instead of a state institution. Advocates shared with legislators, at last week’s Advocacy Day, a map of residential services and supports that are available to individuals with developmental disabilities, regardless of how significant their disabilities are, in the community.

What to do with the federal stimulus?

Developmental disability programs will generate almost $200 million in federal stimulus dollars. State lawmakers are not required to spend that money within the programs that generated it, they can use it just to plug the deficit gap. The Arc of Washington State has put together a fact sheet concerning what DD programs generate that money and asking that a little, less than 10%, be kept in the DD system to fund our programs, most of which were not included in the Governor’s budget. This information is being shared with the fiscal committees in both the House and Senate and will be shared with all legislators through this week’s Advocacy Day.

What can you do to help?

Self-advocates around the state, with their families and providers, are putting together short, one minute videos which are being posted on You Tube, as individuals with developmental disabilities try to share how they felt about having lived in a state institution and how important it is to them to now live in the community. These short videos will be shared with legislators in a variety of ways. To participate in a video, email us at Diana@arcwa.org

The Arc of Washington State has an Action Network that 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 phone, email and personal visits to ask legislators to make sure that bills you are most concerned about get pulled to the Floor for a vote.

The Olympia Insider video podcast is a concise preview and review of what’s happening with developmental disability advocacy in Washington’s capitol city.

I hope to see you at Advocacy Day as change is made by those who show up!

Diana Stadden
Arc of Washington State
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator