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In March, several individuals supported by the agency and some People First of Boone County members traveled to the capitol for Disability Rights Legislative Day. This year’s theme was “We Choose Inclusion,” and participants had the opportunity to express to legislators what that means to them personally.
The day’s events began with a rally in the rotunda, where hundreds of people from across the state gathered to hear from legislators and advocates about legislation that supports inclusion of people with disabilities in life, in work, and in decision-making that impacts them directly. For example, Senator Scott Sifton talked about SB 203, which would enable people like Max Lewis to work and earn money without jeopardizing his Medicaid eligibility and life-sustaining support.
Representative James Neely talked about HB 626, which strengthens guardianship law in a way that places greater emphasis on the best interests and human dignity of wards. State Treasurer Eric Schmitt appeared on video to talk about ABLE Accounts — made possible by legislation passed last year which will enable Missourians with disabilities to save for the future without jeopardizing their services and supports.
After the rally, participants dispersed to have individual meetings with their legislators. “It’s good to visit with them on this day,” says Jeff Johnson, People First of Boone County President. “But it’s important for us to keep up with them. We need to call and visit with them all year long. We need to let them know any time something comes up that might help us or hurt us or our friends. That’s what we do.” Several participants in the day expressed concern about the future of services and supports for people with disabilities, given talk at the state and federal level about block granting or capitating Medicaid or moving to managed care.