Gone are the days when lobbying state lawmakers meant simply picking up a phone, writing a letter or attending a town hall forum. While calls, letters and attendance at forums are still effective ways to reach out, technology allows self-advocates an easier way to follow legislation and give voice to their own thoughts and ideas.
Access Press has heard from readers seeking more information on how to reach out to state lawmakers and how to follow bills at the capitol. Here are some hints:
Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) has a webpage, blog and Facebook page where updates are posted, regularly. Visit the web page and find links to the blog and email signups, here. MN-CCD hosts regular Tuesdays at the Capitol and Friday noon meetings at the State Office Building that are open to the public.
Another way to follow legislation and have an influence is to stay in close contact with an advocacy group or groups. Almost every disability advocacy group has a public policy section on its website. Look for the headings of advocacy, public policy or news updates. Some have hints for writing letters to the editor, as well as apps for smart phone users.
The Arc Minnesota offers bill updates and other information on its home page. The Arc also provides a weekly one-page document on the bills it is involved with, with bill numbers, authors’ names and status reports.
The National Alliance for the mentally Ill (NAMI) Minnesota is another group that provides regular legislative updates.
ARRM also posts regular updates on yet more topics of interest to the disability community. ARRM can be found here.
Most advocacy groups also have Facebook pages where updates are posted. One example of a Facebook page with lots of information is The 5% Campaign.
Both the Minnesota House and Senate have online links to make finding and following specific bills much easier. Mid-page, users will find MyBills, a service that allows everyone to track bills important to them. It takes a few minutes to register into the system to follow a bill or bills. Subscribers receive regular updates as bills go through the process, and action alerts when a bill goes to the House or Senate floor. Go here to get started.