2013 legislative session not a walk in the park

Published 4:46 pm Saturday, January 19, 2013

The 2013 Minnesota Legislature convened on Jan. 8, with the DFL now the majority party in both the House and Senate. Some have mused that we won’t have to work as hard this legislative session as we have in previous years. Think again.

Here’s why this session will not be a walk in the park:

•No matter what political party is in power, we always have to make our presence known. We can’t assume any party will automatically support our agenda.

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•The legislature faces a $1 billion deficit, and some state programs will again face cuts.

•We need to remind state legislators about the cuts to disability services over the past decade and the need to protect them from additional cuts.

•We also need to tell legislators that we want to transform our programs to make them more responsive to individual needs.

•Over the past 10 years, many other social services also took substantial budget cuts. Advocates for those programs are already making their needs known at the Capitol.

•3,600 individuals still wait for services under the developmental disabilities waiver.

•Many individuals on the waiver aren’t getting their needs met because of the lack of housing options.

•Many children with autism are having trouble accessing necessary therapies.

Here’s what you can do:

•The most important thing is sharing your story with your legislator. Legislators love to hear from their constituents, and this is one of the most effective actions you can take.

•Come to a Tuesday at the Capitol, where volunteers Jean Bender and Les Bauer from The Arc can help you write your story. Tuesdays at the Capitol, sponsored by the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and its member agencies like The Arc Minnesota, have been organized to provide you with a way to get active at the Capitol.

•Attend The Arc’s Tuesday at the Capitol Kick Off at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29 in the State Office Building Cafeteria.

•Come to Disability Day at the Capitol on March 26.

These actions will help ensure that our work together this session will give people with disabilities more control over their services and better meet their needs. Thanks in advance for your efforts.

 Upcoming Events

•Monday: The Arc office will be closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

•Friday: All-you-can-eat Chicken Dumpling Soup and Chili Supper, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Mower County Senior Center. Tickets are available at The Arc office for $6 per person or at the door for $7 per person.

•Tuesday, Jan. 29: IDEA: Understanding the Individualized Education Program (IEP), 6:30 to 9 p.m. This Individualized Education Program (IEP) workshop explores new IEP requirements and components of IEP development, including evaluation, resolving disagreements, and an expanded section on writing measurable goals. Call PACER at 800-537-2237. This workshop is for parents of children with disabilities and for professionals.

•Jan. 3 to Feb. 15: Special Olympics Raffle. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at The Arc office. Grand prize is a Polaris 600 Indy Snowmobile. Other prizes include an entertainment package (60” LED TV, Surround Sound System and XBOX 360 Kinect) and $1,000 cash prize

• Tuesday, Feb. 19: The Arc’s 18th annual Rose Sale begins