Speaking Up for People Living with Disabilities

Speaking Up for People Living with Disabilities

We Need Legislative Change & Support

By Mary Gaasch, Director of Advocacy and Community Relations

In October, Jacob Snell, the Program Manager for our west metro (Hammer) Royal Oaks program and I attended ANCOR’s Policy Summit in Washington, DC. ANCOR (American Network of Community Options and Resources) is our national trade association and a leading voice in Washington for providers for people with disabilities. We met with leaders from across the country to plan policy initiatives and build relationships.

Jacob and I (on the left side of the photo) also went to Capitol Hill to meet with our representatives to discuss policy proposals that would invest in our care infrastructure. We shared the grim results of ANCOR’s most recent survey of providers nationwide. In some states the system that serves people with disabilities is near collapse. Other states, like Oklahoma, used money from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide significant increases to disability services.

I also represent Hammer and NER on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, which led to an exciting opportunity to build support in the Minnesota Legislature. I was invited to a conversation with Department of Economic Development (DEED) commissioner Steve Grove. Commissioner Grove wanted to hear from nonprofits about their needs and concerns before developing DEED’s legislative agenda for 2023. Nonprofits are vital partners in every initiative the legislature undertakes. I spoke about the support we need for our workforce which has been facing serious shortages for quite some time.

Following the recent 2022 midterm elections, we have many new legislators who will be sworn in in January. Some will replace our long-term champions. We have a big job on our hands getting to know them and helping them to get to know us. Now is the best time to build these critical relationships, before the session starts and they get very busy.

We need YOUR help!

First, do you know who your legislators are? Find out here and sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media:

Second, please take the time to introduce yourself to your new legislator. You can email or phone their office and ask if they would be willing to visit a Hammer home or chat over Zoom. Feel free to share any updates with me at maryg@ hammer.org. As always, you can reach out to me with any questions you may have, or for help in connecting with your representatives at the state or national level. I’m always up for even a cup of coffee together!

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