A Crucial Time for Disability Policy and Advocacy

At a legislative planning meeting the other day, a lobbyist noted that the 2024 session of the Minnesota Legislature starts […]

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At a legislative planning meeting the other day, a lobbyist noted that the 2024 session of the Minnesota Legislature starts the day after the Super Bowl. My days of gametime parties have gone by the wayside, alas. It’s a time for staying home and watching the commercials.

The session is a time that we consider to be “super” in terms of making policy and spending changes that affect the lives of people with disabilities. 2024 is a bonding and policy session so the focus is not on new spending. After all of the gains made in 2023, it’s going to require a mental shift on everyone’s part.

I’ve been listening in on planning sessions for 2024 agendas, and reading others. We could fill 100 pages of the newspaper with agendas and asks. Instead, I always encourage people with disabilities, their family members, caregivers and allies to get involved.

Find the advocacy group or groups of your choice and sign up for newsletters and updates. Like and follow Facebook pages. Learn about legislation and how it affects you.

If you can, offer to testify at a hearing. Write letters. Make calls.

Go to rallies and meet state lawmakers in person if you are able to. That can be a very worthwhile experience. In my opinion, everyone should be able to visit their state capitol at least once in a lifetime.

We publish commentary pieces on legislation and we welcome those in our print issue. Those also appear online with the rest of the print content each month. We do need writers to follow our guidelines.

We also encourage people to contact their hometown newspapers, broadcast media and news websites and ask about submitting letters and commentaries to those news outlets. That’s a great way to personalize an issue and have that issue catch the eye of others in your home community. It can even open a door to other journalists and allow your story to be part of news coverage.

The locally published letters and commentaries are also a great way to get the eye of elected officials in your home community. And don’t rule out newspapers and websites that focus on a specific ethnic or cultural group. One in four of us becomes disabled in our lifetimes. Disability does not discriminate.

I’ll be presenting at one of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) Wednesday at the Capitol sessions about how to work with news media. That doesn’t just include us but statewide media as well. We’ll also post my materials on this website.

Have a great session and stay involved.

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  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself & others from the COVID-19 virus."

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