Advocate for Your Rights
On Monday, the 2018 legislative “short session” officially got underway. We’ll be fighting hard for a handful of bills that will improve the lives of Oregonians with disabilities. And we’ll track many more.
Making sure that your voice is front and center leading this advocacy is crucial. Use this form to describe why a piece of legislation matters to you.
Snapshot: 2018 Legislative Priorities
We all want to see Oregonians with disabilities have equal access to the world and the tools to reach their potential. Here’s how three of our top priorities this session will bring us closer to those goals.
- Parents: SB 1526 will make sure that parents who experience intellectual or developmental disabilities are equal in the eyes of the law.
- Workers: HB 4041 will strengthen the economic independence of people with disabilities by expanding job opportunities in state government.
- Kids: HB 4104 will make sure that kids with hearing loss have access to the tools that they need so their language skills can flourish and they can interact with their peers. The bill would guarantee access to insurance coverage for evaluations and hearing aids.
If you want to take a deeper dive, you can read more below.
Protecting the Rights of Parents (SB 1526): Integrating people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into society means that they will live their lives like everyone else. For some people, part of life is having a family. The reality is many people with disabilities are parents. Society and our laws are catching up to this fact.
Many of you may be familiar with the barriers that Redmond couple Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler recently faced in parenting their children. Their case is helping to galvanize public support for changing Oregon’s law.
The state can interfere with a parent’s right to raise her own child and a child’s right to be raised by his own parents only when absolutely necessary. Taking a child away from her family based solely on a parent’s disability — whether it’s intellectual, psychiatric, sensory or physical — is discriminatory. We need to change state law to make clear that questions about a parent’s ability should always focus on the individual and their capacity to parent.
- Bill would prohibit using disability as sole reason to terminate parental rights (The Oregonian, January 17)
- My Letter to the Editor of The Oregonian on this issue (The Oregonian, July 23, 2017)
Employing Workers with Disabilities in State Government (HB 4041)
Employing people with disabilities across every sector is the most cost-effective way to give people the opportunity to be independent and self-sufficient.
People with disabilities have incredible skills and talents, and want to contribute to the workforce.
Yet, they remain a largely untapped talent pool for employers to hire from. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities — currently 10.5 percent — is consistently twice as high as that for workers who don’t have disabilities.
Oregon made history a few years ago as one of the first states to end segregated employment for workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Four years ago, Oregon had 46 sheltered workshops. Today, it has 20. State policies to grow disability employment have made a difference, but many individuals with disabilities remain unemployed or under-employed.
This bill will help the state government serve as a model for other employers, and will help our state continue to lead on this issue.
Ensuring Kids with Hearing Loss Have Access to Treatment (HB 4101)
Every kid needs consistent, clear access to sound. Without it, kids can’t acquire the language they need to keep pace with their peers in the classroom and develop the social-emotional skills that are crucial to success in school and throughout life.
Access to sound requires initial and ongoing hearing evaluations, hearing aids, and related equipment. The costs can climb to thousands of dollars. Most health insurance policies don’t provide coverage for these essential health care needs.
For kids with hearing loss, adequate insurance coverage of these crucial tools can mean the difference between reaching key educational and developmental milestones or falling behind their peers.
This legislation would require insurance coverage evaluations, hearing aids, and other essential equipment.
We all live in a great state, but there is much more that we can do to make sure that Oregonians with disabilities have the opportunity to live better lives. By championing these legislative priorities together, we’ll do just that.
Thank you for helping to grow public support for these issues.