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Independent Living Day 2015

On January 21, ECNV representatives Selvin Garcia, Brianna Gross, Ruchika Lalwani, Lenore Levin, Alexa Mavroidis, Doris Ray, Cailyn Reese, Jen Reese, Andrew Shaw, and Brewster Thackeray joined the Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living (VACIL) for Independent Living Day at the General Assembly in Richmond. This is our annual chance to advocate for legislation that will benefit our work and the people we serve in the community.

ECNV representatives responded to Advocacy Director Doris Rays call for outreach and visited the offices of all 28 legislators who represent our service area, and talked with many senators and delegates and/or their aides as well. Among the legislators the ECNV delegation met with directly were Delegates David Bulova, Patrick Hope, David LaRock, Mark Keam, Kaye Kory, Randall Minchew, Kathleen Murphy, and David Ramadan; and Senators George Barker, Adam Ebbin, Barbara Favola, and David Marsden, along with aides to many other legislators.

IL Day is a unique opportunity for us to introduce our issues to our legislators, while reminding them how people with disabilities are impacted by the issues we are addressing," said ECNV Executive Director Brewster Thackeray.

The top priority this year was to let legislators know how CILs have been affected by two budget cuts: one in the 2012 budget which reduced funding by $212,517 followed by the Governors cuts this fall that were an additional $230,250. This $442,767 needs to be restored so CILs can maintain independent living services for people with disabilities to help them stay and flourish in their communities.

Other issues included protecting current employment relationships for Medicaid consumer-directed supports by allowing individuals to hire attendants regardless of whether the attendant works separately for another person with a disability; reducing the waiting list for the Medicaid Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver and Intellectual Disabilities (ID) Waiver; and supporting legislation requiring the Virginia Board of Education to promulgate regulations that prohibit the use of restraint and seclusion except in emergencies threatening physical danger and requiring 24-hour parental notice. VACIL also supports legislation to require transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft and their drivers to comply with the ADA and the Virginians with Disabilities Act in order to operate in the state.

Everyone worked together in a very cooperative and efficient manner and that is why we were able to meet with someone from all of our legislative offices," Ms. Ray explained. "I think this was very important and we were very effective as a group!"

ECNV and the other CILs advocacy on the funding issue was effective, as both the House and Senate subsequently included budget amendments to restore funding.