Since March of 2018, Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) board and staff have been working collaboratively with diverse stakeholders to propose a structure for an autism council that can be a fair, appropriate, representative resource for legislators and administrators in their efforts to improve the lives of people with autism and their families. AuSM shares a vision for a council that can be inclusive, well-informed, cooperative, and productive. We are deeply supportive of the efforts made by the diverse working committee thus far to make this vision a reality.
Due to unexpected changes in the proposed structure of the group, Jean Bender, AuSM Board of Directors President and Advocacy Committee Chair, has been appointed as a part of a central leadership team of the proposed Minnesota Autism Council. In any role, AuSM priorities will not change. Whatever next steps face the group, AuSM will remain committed, as always, to advocacy for the inclusion of diverse and informed voices at all levels: voices of adults and families with autism, voices of those from underrepresented groups, voices of those who share our commitment to a strong, collaborative, supportive autism community.
AuSM is aware that members of the working committee and the community have voiced concerns about these developments. AuSM takes these concerns seriously, and we encourage all interested community members and representatives to share any ideas with Senator Abeler, and to share with the Autism Society of Minnesota, so that we may be able to continue to fulfill our role as an ally and advocate for the broad and complex Minnesota autism community.
AuSM supporters and other members of Minnesota’s autism and disability community are encouraged to attend Tuesday at the Capitol, hosted by AuSM, on Tuesday, April 17 from 9:30-11 a.m. Held during Autism Awareness Month, AuSM’s Tuesday at the Capitol will focus on the critical last phase of the legislative session. Learn about the legislation that impacts our community; plan in advance for a visit with your legislators after the meeting (AuSM can help with this!); and build relationships with community members and lawmakers. Cost: FREE, but registration is encouraged. Click here to register.
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED
Contact legislative leaders now to have an impact on health and human services funding and policy before the Legislature adjourns.
We are appreciative of Governor Dayton's recent veto of SF 800, a bill that would have reduced funding for disability services by millions of dollars and would have caused significant challenges to Minnesotans living with disabilities. This detrimental bill was passed by the legislature, despite a projected budget surplus of more than $1.6 million.
House and Senate leaders and the governor now are negotiating on a new bill, which must be completed before the legislature officially adjourns Monday, May 22. Given that tight timeline, there could be agreement among state officials at any time on a new bill, and the Health and Human Services Conference Committees could have little time to debate and pass that bill.
Your advocacy can help restore some of the budget cuts that were in the vetoed bill, along with several important benefits that include: new employment services, a 25 percent reduction in TEFRA parental fees, an expansion of consumer-directed community supports, and increased housing.
The Minnesota legislature has proposed significant cuts to funding in Health and Human Services. The Senate plans to cut $335 million and the House plans to cut $559 million. These cuts will have negative effects on access to services for people with disabilities. If this concerns you or a loved one, contact both your legislators and the legislative leaders at the Capitol. Let them know how their proposed spending cuts will impact you and other people with disabilities.
WHO TO CONTACT
Click here to find your legislators.