Developmental Disabilities and Transportation Awareness Day in Florida is February 11 at the State Capitol in Tallahassee.
The legislative priorities that have been chosen by Florida Self-Advocates Network'D FL SAND) focus on saving the iBudget (Medicaid) waiver. In 2019, state legislators asked the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to propose a re-design of the waiver to cut down on costs, prompting an uprising from self-advocates, parents, and providers around the state in the past six months. There have been grassroots social media campaigns as well as the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council's (FDDC) "Save the iBudget Campaign" to increase awareness of the importance of the waiver in helping to maintain an individual’s independence and inclusion within their community. It’s important for lawmakers to be informed of how this issue affects, not only FL SAND members, but others living with a disability and their families.
To address the iBudget Waiver crisis, many agencies like FL SAND and FDDC have adopted legislative priorities that ask the legislature to fully fund the waiver, reduce the number of people on the waiting list, and increase pay for direct service providers. Additionally, the past few weeks, groups have been addressing an unexpected senate bill (SB 82) that would impact waiver services.
The FDDC, along with the Arc of Florida, Commission on the Transportation Disadvantaged, and the Florida Public Transportation Administration are hosting the event. Developmental disabilities awareness day is a great opportunity to meet your legislators in person and get a first-hand look at some of the workings of how bills become laws.
Those attending should attempt to meet with their legislators while at the Capitol. It’s important to make an appointment with their office prior to your arrival. This can be done by sending an email request or contacting them via phone. Legislators are typically available for just a short period of time so it’s a good idea to have an index card prepared with a few brief points you’d like to make while at their office and to leave information with them. You can access your legislators' contact information here.
Personal stories that go along with the issue you’re advocating for are also important. These stories make the issue more human for the person listening. It’s important for elected officials to know the impact the laws they vote on have on the daily lives of their constituents. Make sure to keep your story brief and relevant to the issue you’re talking about. After your visit, a handwritten note thanking them for their time is also helpful to help keep your issue at the forefront of their mind. The FDDC has resources to use while visiting legislators at this site.
Along with being able to see committee meetings and interact with your legislators, FL SAND and other agencies will have exhibits during DD Awareness Day. This event is also an opportunity to network with other organizations that might be able to provide you with assistance. It might also help your group find new allies or help your group grow.