Rallies, awareness events raise profiles at state capitol

Rallies, awareness events raise profiles at state capitol

When the Minnesota Legislature is in session, it’s time for disability advocacy groups to swing into action. Rallies and days to raise awareness of a specific disability or disabilities are important aspects of any legislative process and provide a way to draw attention to key issues and needs.

Many Minnesota group are staging or have staged 2019 events. The state’s Centers for Independent Living had their day to promote independent living February 5, after deadline for this issue of Access Press. But other groups are lining up their events and encouraging people to get involved. Some of the multi-organization events are listed with in this article.

One of the biggest annual events is Disability Day at the Capitol, which is Tuesday, February 19. Attendees from around the state are gathering to support policies and funding that focus on independence, choice, and inclusion. About 500 people attended the 2018 event, and a larger crowd is sought this year. Register online here.

The event starts at 9 a.m. with check in and registration at the Department of Transportation cafeteria. That’s followed at 9:30 by a brief training on issues and advocacy. Poster-making and tabling starts at 10 a.m., with the march and roll to the capitol at 10:30 a.m.

A rally in the capitol rotunda is to start at 11 a.m. and last until 11:45 a.m.

Those who attend the event are encouraged to set up meetings with House and Senate members from their home districts, and to work with legislators’ staff to get even a few minutes of time. Disability Day volunteers will be available to help people get to meeting and provide other support.

The Arc Minnesota can answer questions about the event. Call Gene Martinez at 952-902-0855 or email genemartinez@arcminnesota.org. The deadline for requesting accommodations was February 5, but check to see what is available.

Other sponsors as of Access Press deadline are ACCRA, Advocating Change Together (ACT), Autism Society of Minnesota, Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, Lifeworks, Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Minnesota Council on Disability and Proof Alliance. Proof Alliance is the new name for Minnesota organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS).

Check the sponsors’ web pages for additional information on Disability Day.

Another big legislative event is ARRM/MOHR Disability Services Day at the Capitol, which is Tuesday, March 12. The capitol rotunda rally is at 10 a.m. The two organizations join forces each year to support community-based services for people with disabilities.

The rally draws people from around Minnesota. Look for more information on the websites, www.arrm.org or www.mohrmn.org.

Registration forms are due by Friday, February 15. The sponsoring organizations will be coordinating meetings with state lawmakers, and will have a coat and break room available in the state Office Building.

Mental Health Day on the Hill also brings together organizations that advocate for children and adults living with mental illnesses and their families. This event is 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14. Buses from around the state will arrive in St. Paul, filled with advocates to make the case for supports and services.

An informational briefing at 9:30 a.m. will be followed by a rally from 11 a.m. until noon. Visits to legislators follow the rally. For questions Sam Smith at NAMI Minnesota is one of the contacts, at 651-645-2948 ext. 107 or ssmith@namimn.org.

Other groups will also have events and rallies. Several groups are sponsoring Tuesdays at the Capitol through MNCCD, with several dates still available. Information about available dates and how to sign up are on this month’s Opportunities page.

Rallies and other events are also publicized on websites and Facebook pages, and on social media for organizations. Check often as events can be organized quickly, especially in response to legislative action or inaction.