Editor's Column- June 2002

Kevin Goodno, from the Moorhead area, is resigning from the House of Representatives.  Goodno has been a strong supporter of disability issues for the last 12 years.  He is the chair of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee and is very well respected among his peers at the State Capitol.  Medical Assistance for Employed People with Disabilities (MA-EPD) may not have become law in Minnesota, or at least not as quickly as it did, without Rep. Goodno.  He recognized that this program was good for all Minnesotans as well as all of the disability community.  His strong lobbying effort to explain the financial contribution that could be made by the disability community, if only some of the disincentives for work were removed, helped get the MA-EPD passed.  With the huge budget deficit this session, Rep. Goodno did everything possible to maintain funding for all the disability programs.

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Pete Feigal was unable to contribute his column on MI this month.  We will miss it and are hoping Pete will be back writing soon. 

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Derek VanderVeen offers us his unique look at life as a new resident, with a disability, in the Twin Cities.  In fact, Derek shares his story of life as a person with two minority labels.  We thank him for his contribution and we look forward to hearing from him again.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one year older and hopefully one year wiser.  The ADA is a very difficult law to understand as proven by the number of ADA cases that have been heard by the Supreme Court.  One way to increase your knowledge about the ADA is to attend the Rights and Responsibilities conference on July 26.  Two experts will be lecturing:  Judy Heumann will speak on how the ADA is changing and John Wodatch will address Department of Justice involvement with the ADA.  Besides all the information that will be available, this is a celebration and all of us with disabilities should be celebrating the freedom the ADA has given us. 

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Donna McNamara collaborated with several of the disability community lobbyists to give us a summary of what took place during a very long session.

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The most recent number I’ve heard is 26 that is, 26 new legislators and this number may be conservative.  With this high turnover at the Capitol we should all be prepared to discuss the issues that concern us when our local politicians call or knock on our doors.  Give yourself a little time to think about the issues and do some background research to be ready to convert the new candidate to your philosophy.  Electing a candidate who you’re comfortable talking with and who will listen to your concerns is a excellent way to effect social change.