PADSA Webinar: Legislative Advocacy

PADSA Webinar: Legislative Advocacy

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Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining
us and for bearing with us. Today’s webinar is on legislative advocacy
with Nicole Lablanc. She is the advocacy director at Green Mountain
Self Advocates in Vermont. So if you would like to go ahead and begin,
Nicole, feel free. Nicole: Which thing is – Which slide do you
have up? Where to – lobby? Narrator: It says Legislative Advoacy 101. rustling sounds background sounds, no speaking Nicole: Are you on the first page, which is advocacy? Narrator: I’m on the first slide which says Legislative Advocacy 101. How to speak up at the Statehouse and make your voice heard. Nicole: Okay. rustling Is the next slide “What will you advocate for?” Narrator: It says, “Advocacy, what is it?” Nicole: Okay. So for the first slide, advocacy – what is
it? Speaking up. Taking action. Just out of curiosity, how many of you all
go to your state house in your state to speak up on things like budget cuts? Narrator: You can feel free to raise your
hand. There is a little hand signal to indicate your response to Nicole’s question. Narrator: So it looks like three people do.
Nicole? Nicole: Whoever wants to go first can go first. Unknown speaker: I’ll go first. Can you hear
me? Nicole: Yeah, I can hear you. Trina: Okay, my name’s Trina and I went last
year and spoke to the legislature in our state
about a bill they were trying to get passed to increase
the amount of time people who perpetrate sexual
abuse on people with disabilities have to spend
in prison. And the bill was passed. undetermined scraping sound Narrator: Thank you, Trina. Nicole: Anybody else? Narrator: So I think we can move on, Nicole. Nicole: Okay. Next, what will you advocate
for? One of the big things when it comes to doing legislative advocacy is knowing your platform
and what you’ll speak up about. undetermined scraping sound and shuffling
around Nicole: So I know right here in California,
right now we’ve got a – our budget is in the process
of being approved and they’re asking everybody
– the Lanterman Coalition is asking everybody
in California to write letters, to fax, to tweet
the Governor to restore the budget cuts that they made
a few years ago. And so the people in California, that’s what
we’re advocating for right now. That’s our platform, the ten percent. Unknown speaker : That’s good. That’s what we’ve been doing in Vermont. indistinguishable, loud background noises.
No one is speaking Narrator: I think we can move on, Nicole? Nicole: Okay. Next, I have elevator speeches. Has anyone here done an elevator speech? Or know what an elevator speech is? indistinguishable, loud background noises.
No one is speaking Nicole: Once you know what issue you want
to advocate for you need to prepare what you
say. We call these elevator speeches. What do you think an elevator speech means? Anybody? miscellaneous background noise unknown speaker at low volume says something
unintelligible Narrator: We don’t have any raised hands. Nicole: An elevator speech is something you
prepare for when you go into the state house, like if you get in an elevator with, let’s say,
Governor Someone or Barak Obama. You usually have maybe a minute or less and
you say, “Hello, I’m Nicole Leblanc and I’m here to talk about why funding for developmental
services is important. Without services people will struggle and go into crisis and will become depressed.” When you do an elevator speech it is important to let them know they’re in your voting district, you voted for them. Say that you have a disability, I speak for
myself and give them a copy of any legislative alert
you have on the budget or whatever topic you’re discussing. Make sense? miscellaneous background noise Nicole: Chris, are you still on slide four? Narrator: Yes, it says “Elevator Speeches
with Politicians”. I think we can go to the next one. Nicole: The next slide is showing an example
of an elevator speech. Where it says, “For next year we need money
for high school graduates.” Do you know how many students with disabilities
who are graduating this year? There are 96 who will need services. Many will lose jobs without support. As you can see it’s short and sweet; to the
point. background noise Nicole: Another thing that’s a big issue in our state is aging caregivers. So this is an example of what I might say
to a legislator. To catch their ear. “My name is Nicole Leblanc. Most people getting
services live with their families and many parents
are getting older and can’t have their son or daughter
live with them anymore. The next year we renew caseload. We need more money for new services they will
need. background noises Nicole: Next slide is – Too fast, please.
Speak up. Narrator: We’re – I think we’re doing okay,
Nicole. Nicole: Next is Testimony Tips. Remember K.I.S.S.S.S. – Keep it Short, Sincere, Simple and Stick to
the facts. It’s two minutes at most, sometimes you may get a chance to speak longer of the committe calls you in to testify on a certain topic. Speak from the heart. Say what group you’re from. No initials. Stick to the facts. Don’t make things up. And always follow up with something enlightening. background noises Nicole: Next is an activity on writing an
elevator speech. Which slide are you looking at? It shows how you would craft an elevator speech. “My name is so-and-so and I live in So and
so and I get developmental services. Talk about your job or how you volunteer. Say what you do. Tell how it makes you feel to help others. Tell them what your staff people do. Speak from the heart. Remember, we’re all givers and takers. We give as much as we take. Next, connecting with legislators. Now that you know what you’re going to say it is time to connect with your legislators. As you can see there are many ways to connect with legislators like writing letters, writing letters, emailing, calling, having
a party. Testifying at the state house. Having a legislative breakfast, something
that a lot of local self advocacy groups in Vermont
do. Do any of you know who your legislators are
in your state? Narrator: Feel free to raise your hand, or
you can type your questions into the question box. The questions or the responses to Nicole’s
questions in the question box. loud background noises Narrator: Anita Foreman has a question. Does your legislator mean the people in the House of Representatives? Nicole? Nicole: Yes, or Senate. Narrator: Okay. loud background noises Narrator: Okay, any more questions? At this point? Unknown speaker: Not so much; okay, I’ll ask
a question. If we don’t know who our legislative people
are, how can we find that information? Nicole: Your state has a website. Like in Vermont it’s – you go to – for example in Vermont you go to like type in “google Vermont legislator” for
example. www.capital.tn.tennesse.gov is where there legislative directory is. So type in “New Hampshire state legislature”
or “Washington State legislature” and it will
link you to a page that’ll have a list by county, what district you’re in – does that answer your question? Unknown speaker: Absolutely. Thank you, Nicole. Nicole: You’re welcome. Are we ready to go on to setting up appointments? Narrator: I think so. NIcole: How to set up appointments with legislators. Email or call them directly through the Sargent
at Arms. Lunch is usually a good time when you’re at the state house. Make the appointment on your calendar. And its important to dress up, look professional. In Vermont every year we hold a Disability
Awareness Day, which is an all day event. Where we invite legislators to come for appetizers
in the evening. And we have a program where we have speakers. This year we talked about the ADA and all the disability milestones we are celebrating
this year. Sargent at Arms is one place where you can go and leave a note for your legislator. Next, presenting yourself. It’s
important that you look your best. You’re not just representing yourself but you are representing your organization and people with disabilities in general. Look your best: clean, neat. I usually wear a suit, jacket or blazer. The guys wear collared shirts and ties. Introduce yourself, use a firm handshake. Remember what you prepared in your elevator speech. Name, district, your vote. Focus on what they are saying. Listen and respond and don’t forget to thank them for their time. someone sneezes Calling is another way to connect with your legislators. Don’t call on the weekend. Respect their time. Only call the people who represent your district. Sometimes they get annoyed when you call folks out of your district. Have your speech in front of you or your talking points and thank them for their time. Next, testimony. Testimony is spoken or written and prepared
ahead of time. Official – it goes on the legislative record. Not only do you testify but it gets posted
on the state legislative website under the committee we
testified in. And in public you speak in front of a group. You maybe – sometimes the committee will call you in to testify – if in that case you’ll get more time than two to three minutes. In Vermont I testified on numerous bills,
along with the state budget. It can be written or spoken. You need to prepare ahead of time and most
important – never wing it. And don’t be afraid to, at the end say “Do
you have any questions?” Sometimes they may grill you, and ask questions regarding the subject you’re discussing. Next, how a bill get’s passed. Next I’m briefly going to explain. It starts with an idea. Let’s say you want to introduce a bill on respectful language for the disability
community. Next a person or an organization like DMCA
works to find a sponsor in both the House and Senate. In the case of the Respectful Language Bill we got Kathy Flinch from House Human Services
and Anthony Polina Senate Health and Welfare to
sponsor it. They proposed, drafted and submitted. And in our case we worked with legislative
to write the bill. When the bill is finalized it goes to the
Governor and legislature for vote. Next slide shows us how a bill gets passed. A bill is introduced and referred to a committee then moved along and gets marked up by the committee members. They may ask for testimony from advocates impacted by the legislation. Self advocates in this scenario told legislators why the “r” word and other hate speech needs to be eliminated from state statute. Along with the impact the “r” word has on their self esteem as a person with a disability
we stuck with this process and testified many
times. Both Senate and House take testimony on the bill from both sides and then it gets
voted on on the floor. I am proud to say the bill passed and it went to the governor for signature. When it was signed we had a public signing ceremony. I hope this story gives you an idea of testifying and how a bill gets passed. background noises Nicole: Next, how to write testimony. Writing testimony goes like this: Know your audience. Start by saying your name, who you work for, what town you live in. Speak from the heart. Talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this example I’m talking about the budget. Inform members of the committee about the
impact of budget decisions will have in your life. Like if Medicaid services are cut. Poverty reduction programs are eliminated. Speak to the value of these services and programs help people withe disabilities live a dignified
life in the community and end by saying thank you for listening to my testimony. It is good to bring copies to the public hearing and email your legislators ahead of time. Like in Vermont, everyone in the state house is eliminating paper and they’re all reading testimony on their iPads. background noises Narrator: Does anyone have any questions at
this point? Nicole: Now, I don’t have a sample copy of testimony in front of me. But I’m going to go to slide 19, which one thing that’s important to do is to practice ahead of time if you’re new to legislative advocacy. Like, get with a partner and do a role play. Like for instance this demonstration is Governor has announced he is reducing Supported Employment and Medicaid Waiver services for people with disabilities due to a thirty-seven million dollar shortfall. Have one self advocate be the legislator, the other be the constituent coming to talk about their issue. Your story. Use pictures of yourself, talk about your support people – what they do. What life wouldn’t be like without support. Talk about struggles, talk about self advocacy and speaking up. How has the self advocacy movement made a difference in your life. Any questions? background noises Narrator: We’ll give people a couple of minutes to either type their answers into the question
box or to raise your little hand. background noises Narrator: So I’m not seeing any questions…
so… Is that all for you, Nicole? Nicole: Yes, that’s all I have on the version of the PowerPoint that I’m looking at. Narrator: Well, thank you all so much for
coming. This webinar has been recorded and will be posted on the Pacific Alliance on Disability
Self Advocacy website. That’s Pacific-Alliance.org. It will be posted on the website within the
next few weeks. So, thank you all so much for coming and thank you, Nicole for this. Nicole: You’re welcome. If anyone needs the PowerPoint just email one of us. If you want a copy of the PowerPoint. Narrator: Okay, thank you all so much for
coming. Thanks. Nicole: Have a nice evening. Bye!

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