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Why Not

I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.

Deafening Silence

"The relationships within corporations (Cudahy) improve when information is shared accurately and freely" This is from Leadership is an Art by Max DePree. This message was sent to me by a retiring co-worker and it is something that she wanted our group to continue.  

Let me start by stating that anytime that I have contacted Mayor Day or my Alderman, I have always received a response. 

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Disability Advocacy Day Experience

It never gets old.  We attended our second Disability Advocacy Day this week. There was so much excitement and anxiety around the Capitol. Unlike last year, because there was so much going on, we were unable to meet with our Legislators, Sen Larson and Rep Sinicki. 

We were able to speak with Sen Larson’s staff. It is a great feeling when the staff remembers your visit as well as the messages you leave. Much more was going on in the Assembly, so there was nobody in Rep Sinicki’s office when we arrived.

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Super Tuesday for People with Disabilities ***UPDATE***

The Family Care, Seclusion and Restraint, People First, and School Voucher Bills will all be voted on by the Assembly on Tuesday (March 6). All four of these bills could impact people with disabilities in Wisconsin. 

***Update***

These were voted on Tuesday & early Wednesday morning

 

Family Care/IRIS Caps and Expansion (AB 477):

This bill would lift the caps and expand the programs statewide. The Assembly will vote on an amended version that gives the Joint Finance Committee the authority to decide whether the 15 counties that don’t have Family Care/IRIS can start these programs.

Recommendation from disability advocates: Pass the bill without amendment to lift the caps and ensure people in the counties without these programs can access them. 

***UPDATE***

Passed the Assembly, with Amendment, must go before Joint Finance for Active Review.  Since the Assembly added the amendments, now the Senate must vote again on the bill.

 

Seclusion and Restraint in Schools (AB 455):

This bill would limit the use of seclusion and restraint in schools to situations when the student’s or others’ safety is at risk and it is the last resort. If the Assembly passes AB 455, children will be safer and parents will be informed when these practices are used.

Recommendation from disability advocates: Pass AB 455 so it can become law.

***Update***

Passed the Assembly

 

People First Language in State Law (AB 471):

This bill replaces the R-word in state law like Rosa’s Law did on the federal level. If the Assembly passes AB 471, state law will use people-first language and the term “intellectual disabilities” instead of the R-word.

Recommendation from disability advocates: Pass AB 471 so people-first language is used in Wisconsin law.

***UPDATE***

Passed the Assembly*** 

 

Special Needs Vouchers (AB 110):

This bill is intended to allow parents of students with disabilities to use vouchers to attend private schools. The bill takes funding out of public schools, resulting in less money for the vast majority of students with disabilities who remain in public schools. Schools are not required to have special education or related service staff available and do not have to develop new IEPs each year. If the Assembly passes AB 110, it could harm parents and students with disabilities.

Recommendation from disability advocates: Oppose AB 110.

***Update***

Passed the Assembly.  There is still hope as the Senate needs to vote on this bill (SB 486) 

Please contact your State Senator Today (http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx) and ask them to oppose SB486

 

Thank you for participating in the legislative process and making Wisconsin a better place for people with disabilities!

 

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Partners in PolicyMaking - Session 3

This past weekend, I participated in my third session of Partners in Policymaking class.  I was especially excited about this session.  Not so much for what was going to be discussed, but because I was going to be with a group on individuals from all over the state, who worked together to have a major impact on 4 pieces of legislation. 

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Attending the Signing of Disability Legislation

What a day.  First to get the invitation and then to have to wait through the weekend for the event.  In all of my wildest dreams I would have never thought I would be part of a Bill signing, let alone 4 Bills. Looking back, I can honestly say that I, along with many people in that room, was a part of the democratic process in getting legislation passed that I actively advocated for.  It makes me feel good to say that what I have done has made a difference.

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IMPACT of State Budget on Students with Disabilities

Survival Coalition of 40 disability organizations has released a report based on survey results from nearly 450 WI families detailing the impacts of this biennium's education budget on their students with disabilities. 46% report that their school's local education budget has negatively impacted their child's education.

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Community

For some strange reason, the topic of community came up at 3 different times, with 3 different groups of people on 3 different parts of community last week. While I often talk about the different communities that I belong to, I was really dumbfounded about the recurrent theme last week.

The first time it came up was because of changes to a specific community. In this case, it was a change that was going to eventually happen, it just came about a lot sooner rather than later. I know that change is difficult, but it is how we cope with this change that determines the success or failure that we feel. I believe that if we go into it with open eyes, there is a very good chance that we will come to appreciate the change.

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