Self-Advocates Host Legislative Advocacy Day

The Self-Advocate Advisory Council of the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities (FCBDD), along with the Ohio Self Determination Association (OSDA), organized and hosted a legislative advocacy event on April 17, at the Bixby Living Skills Center in Columbus. More than 150 self-advocates attended – representing 11 counties from throughout Ohio’s DD system. Seven Ohio legislators, as well as other state officials, attended and listened to individuals’ concerns and ideas. Self-advocates focused on various legislative issues and initiatives, including the biennium budget proposal, accessible parking, the Medicaid asset limit, and more.

Natasha and friendsRep Leland

Top: Natasha and friends from Arc West; 

Lower: Representative David Leland talks with a growing line of several self advocates ready to speak with him at break, about issues of importance to them.

Franklin County self-advocate and lead organizer for the event, Christine Brown, introduced the purpose of the meeting in her always enthusiastic and to-the-point manner:

“We’re here to talk about issues! Things like the Medicaid asset limit – let’s raise it! Let’s get the Miller Trust Fund going … let’s help to attract and retain dedicated staff by increasing their pay. Come on, folks, we have a lot to do!”

A Miller Trust Fund allows people to protect a certain amount of money in order to save it for a specified cause. Information about this and other current topics of interest to Ohioans with developmental disabilities was explained, and participants’ questions were addressed either at the meeting, or written down for follow-up after the meeting.

Legislators at the event pointed out that a proposal regarding independent providers was removed from the state budget bill during April — due, in part, to a great deal of testimony by Ohioans with developmental disabilities. State Representative Bob Hackett addressed the group at Bixby Living Skills Center, noting,

You were heard! The response has been phenomenal.”

He added that the input provided by Ohio’s DD community during this legislative process, “… has been extremely educational for us.” In addition, Representative Michael Curtin noted, “Groups like yours – that are organized – do better, and do more, than those that are not organized. The allocation of scarce resources is driven by what we learn from people like you, who are involved with the system that serves you.”

For more information about the FCBDD Self-Advocate Advisory Council, visit the FCBDD website.