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Recap of the 2020 Advocacy Day
On a crisp sunny morning in February, 21 of us from both Whatcom and Skagit counties boarded a charter bus and headed to Olympia for an opportunity to take part in an event sponsored by The Arc of Washington. This event, known as Advocacy Days, takes place every Wednesday during session on the capitol grounds and draws families and self-advocates from around the state to speak to their legislators. It offers an opportunity to learn more about policy and budget legislation that is currently active in both the House and Senate. The Advocacy Day we attended on February 19th was centered on caseload forecasting, a big concern in our state. Projections made through caseload forecasting
are how funding for state services are determined. Caseload forecasting is not currently done for developmental disabilities services and that is a key reason why there are huge wait lists for people to receive services through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).
We started our day in Olympia with a briefing from The Arc of Washington and other advocacy groups on the latest legislative issues. Then we set of to meet with our legislators. The sun warmed us as we walked across the Capitol campus and to the legislator’s buildings for our meetings with district 40 and 42 representatives. Our group split into two, based on the district we live in, and went off to our respective meetings in conference rooms which allowed space for all of us to sit as a group. Each person had the opportunity to speak for 2-3 minutes, sharing their personal story and concerns that affect them or their family member.
Self-advocates and family members talked to legislators and their staff from District 40 – Representative Lekanoff, Rep. Ramel, and Senator Lovelett and District 42 – legislative assistants for
Representative Shewmake, Rep. Van Werven, and Senator Ericksen. People voiced concerns centered around various issues including: social security reporting, bus restraints, funding for DDA caseload forecasting, and how some particular bills would benefit or affect them or their family member.
At mid-afternoon, we embarked on our journey towards home and reflected on the highlights of the day. Here are some comments that were expressed:
“I liked having time to meet the representatives and Senator for my district. They listened to me.”
“I didn’t expect such a relaxed opportunity to share what matters to me as a parent (for my family member).”
“I liked the whole thing….the whole day was amazing!”
“I was happy to tell my friend’s story (because she couldn’t come). As an advocate, that is important to me.”
“I didn’t expect to have access to talk and really be listened to by my representatives! Now I know that I can contact them and share concerns.”
“Democracy in action– what a fun day at the capitol!”