Frontline Initiative Legislative Advocacy
We hope you all have enjoyed Spring springing and Summer activities. In addition to flowers and warmth, the spring and summer seasons bring along another important annual occurrence — the end to the legislative session throughout the country. Your state may have a unicameral (one house) or bicameral (two house) system may meet yearly or every other year; may be predominately Republican or predominately Democrat or evenly divided, yet in all of these circumstances, you can have a voice in what happens at the Capitol. Lawmakers are interested in the opinions of their constituency — the people who vote them into office each election cycle. Because of this, your opinion is desired and needs to be heard! Although this issue will hit your desk after the current legislative session ends, it will be important to read, learn and begin to develop your action plans now so you will be ready when the next legislative session begins this Fall. Start a dialogue with legislators who are back in their home districts for the summer waiting to hear from constituents on issues of importance. Develop a new relationship with them so they become keenly aware of issues that they will be called upon to make decisions about next session. Call them and invite them to meet the people you support as a DSP. If it is an election year in your state, get to know the candidates and what they stand for. Learn the issues that are important to them and let them know what issues are important to you.
In this issue we will focus on the nuts and bolts of public policy — what it is and how to go about influencing it. We will also hear from people just like you who have gone before their legislatures to testify about the importance of the direct support profession and other disability-related issues. Public policy is also influenced through other means, and we will learn more about lawsuits and efforts at administrative changes (such as the apprenticeship program) which will also affect DSPs.
Our next issue will focus on DSPs who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to support people with disabilities in times of natural disaster and emergency situations — floods, terrorism, and other occurrences. We will also talk about the important role DSPs have in supporting people in the aftermath of tragedy — even if we weren’t in New York City, Washington D.C., or Pennsylvania, many of the people we support were still affected by the tragedies that happened there last Fall. What can we do to help people overcome their emotional trauma after a disaster? If you have a story to share about supporting someone through a difficult time, please consider submitting an article — it doesn’t have to be long, and we are willing to help with writing. Your stories are important and make Frontline Initiative a better publication.
Remember those who show up make the rules — get involved! Write letters to your local paper. Lobby a legislator. Happy lobbying!