AuSM Advocacy Committee: The Year in Review
Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, our AuSM Advocacy Committee (AAC) Co-Chairs, Jean Bender and Jillian Nelson, along with the support of committee members, had a year of triumph with the Minnesota legislature and participation with groups supporting important initiatives. Highlights include:
- Passing the law enforcement training bill during special session in partnership with People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus.
- Partnering with ARC, Upstream Arts, MN Brain Injury Alliance and other groups to pass a bill requiring training on sexual assault prevention for direct support providers.
- Advocating for additional legislation including: Personal Care Attendant (PCA) wage increases, increased customized employment access, equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution, organ transplant regulations, and sensory friendly grants.
- Joining COVID-19 workgroups with the Department of Human Services, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Disability Council, and national groups as well as groups in EIDBI, Employment First, TEFRA reform, waiver reform, and adult protective services reform.
- Committee co-chairs serving on the Minnesota Autism Council, Governors Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the Minnesota State Rehabilitation Council.
- Engaging the community through the virtual autism conference offered collaboratively by Minnesota and Wisconsin; an AuSM Skillshop; several townhalls that included federal legislators; and a variety of AuSM education classes.
- Collaborating with the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) to host Virtual Tuesdays at the Capital, including an Autism Day and the first ever Children’s Day.
- Co-hosting the Disability Day at the Capital (prior to COVID-19) and partnered with Rev Up to increase voter engagement.
- Chairing the MNCCD Anti-Discrimination and Intersectionality Committee.
As the AAC looks forward to the new year, they are preparing an ambitious package of bills to increase ADA requirements for those with invisible disabilities. The package includes:
1: Special Education Parent Accessibility
A bill outlying requirements for educators to accommodate parents with disabilities in the IEP process to allow better access to special education for families with multiple generations of disability.
2: Sensory-Friendly Grant Appropriation
Reintroduction of our 2020 legislation for a grant appropriation for sensory-friendly projects in public access spaces.
3: Sensory-Friendly Event Licensing
A bill amending permit requirements for large event approval to include requirements to provide sensory-friendly space or accommodations for any public event that includes more than 1,000 participants.
4: Courtroom Accessibility
Legislation to require accommodations for witnesses, jurors, and other participants with disabilities who need supports.
5: Plain Language Bill
A bill requiring that all documents related to rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities be provided in plain language, and wider spread law that requires that any document that can be requested in another language also be made available in plain language.
6: County and State Service Accessibility Investigative Workgroup
A bill that creates a workgroup of community stakeholders and departmental members focused on ensuring all state and county disability services are accessible. This group will analyze the accessibility of navigation for people with disabilities accessing services independently or parents with disabilities seeking assistance for children.
7: Emergency Shelter Accessibility
Legislation to create guidelines for equitable access to homeless and domestic violence shelters for individuals with neurological and intellectual disabilities.
8: Legislative Process Accessibility Workgroup
Create a legislative workgroup with stakeholders from groups impacted by the in-person requirements to participate in the legislative process.
If you would like to participate in moving these initiatives forward, we encourage you to get involved with the AuSM Advocacy Committee. Visit www.ausm.org to learn more and complete an AAC interest form.