Legislative Advocacy

One of the most important aspects of our system of government is that it is representative – those who make our laws represent us. But how can they represent us unless we let them know what we are thinking?

Legislative advocacy is just that – contacting a legislator, sharing your views on an issue, and asking him or her to vote a specific way on a bill. This can be done with something as easy as a phone call or letter, or by a formal meeting with the legislator or staff person. GCDD’s Public Policy Team encourages you to review our legislative agenda below to become familiar with our positions on issues important to the disability community.

To learn how to become a grassroots advocate, click here:

GCDD Legislative Priorities 2017:

GCDD’s legislative platform for 2017 supports a number of important items.
Click here to download a pdf of the entire GCDD Legislative Priorities 2017.
Click each item below for more information.
* Indicates items supported by GCDD but led by other entities

Employment First means that employment should be the first and preferred option for all people, regardless of their disability. Under Employment First legislation, employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage is the first and preferred option for all working age citizens with disabilities. Currently, the Georgia system creates many barriers for individuals with disabilities to work. Although the majority of Georgians with developmental disabilities want to work, only 10% of Georgians with developmental disabilities are currently employed in the community.1 Under an Employment First policy, state agencies will need to re-align their policies and funding to prioritize employment for all working-age Georgians with disabilities.
  • Support legislation that addresses employment barriers for people with disabilities, makes Georgia an Employment First state, and prioritizes competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities
¹ National Core Indicators Adult Consumer Survey State Outcomes 2014-2015. National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services and Human Services Research Institute. http://www.nationalcoreindicators.org/states/GA/

Inclusive post-secondary education (IPSE) provides opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to access higher education. This prepares them to live increasingly independent lives and pursue careers of their choice.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities who receive post-secondary education are more likely to find paid employment than those who don’t, and their earnings are 73% higher than peers who do not receive post-secondary education.2

Thanks to legislative support, the number of IPSE programs in Georgia has grown from one to five, with two more coming in 2017.3 However, students in these programs have very few resources available to pay for them compared to what is available to students of traditional college programs. For example, IPSE students cannot access the HOPE scholarship program. Without financial support many qualified, eager students cannot afford the life-changing opportunity of inclusive post-secondary education.

  • Support the sustainability of inclusive post-secondary educational programs in Georgia and increase student access to these programs. Increase legislative funding from $200,000 to $500,000 in total, $100,000 of which can be student scholarships. The FY 2018 ASK for new funding: $300,000

² Migliore, A., Butterworth, J., & Hart, D. (2009). Postsecondary Education and Employment Outcomes for Youth with Intellectual Disabilities. Think College Fast Facts. No 1. http://www.thinkcollege.net/publications/fast-facts.

3 Number refers to the number of IPSE schools with students enrolled for the 2016 Fall Semester.

Out of the several Medicaid waivers that Georgia offers to those who qualify for this level of care, the New Options Waiver (NOW) and the Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP) has by far Georgia’s longest waiting list. As of 9/30/16, there are 8,698 individuals with developmental disabilities on this waiting list. These individuals and their families are desperately hanging on and need Georgia to throw them a lifeline.
  • Fund at least 2470 NOW (80%)/COMP (20%) waivers to reduce Georgia’s longest waiting list and allow more individuals to begin to receive services. $33,058,273
There are a number of school-age children living in nursing facilities or intermediate care facilities. These children did nothing wrong. They are in facilities simply because they have a disability and need care despite the fact that it is completely possible to care for them in the community. Georgia needs to shut the front door to these facilities and ensure every child has a permanent loving home.
  • Support the CFI effort to ensure all children have a permanent loving home. Support legislation to prevent young Georgians under the age of 22 from being placed in intermediate care or nursing facilities. Provide funding for all of the young Georgians with disabilities under the age of 22 who are currently living in facilities to move into permanent loving homes and have the care they need.
Many Georgians balance their work lives with caring for their families. The Family Care Act would enable Georgians who have earned sick leave to use up to five days of that leave to care for sick members of their immediate family. The Family Care Act does NOT add any additional sick days or require employers to provide them; it only allows Georgians to use the sick days they’ve already earned to care for family members.
  •  Support the Family Care Act
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court said it is wrong to execute a person with intellectual disabilities because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.4 But right now in Georgia, it is extremely difficult for an individual to prove in court that they have an intellectual disability. Georgia is the only one of the fifty states that requires a person to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have intellectual disabilities in capital punishment cases.
  • Change the legal standard of proof for proving intellectual disabilities in the O.C.G.A. to a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is the standard used in most other states
4 See Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
Georgia needs an Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry comparable to the Child Abuse Registry established in 2016 in Georgia. This would allow employers of direct care workers to have a better way to screen potential employees and may deter abusers.
  • The creation of the Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program, a sliding fee scale program for workers with disabilities to pay a cost share that would allow them to access Personal Assistant Services to maintain their independence.
  • The creation of PeachWork, a program whose purpose is to provide people with disabilities who are working the opportunity to earn as much as they can and accumulate savings while maintaining needed health coverage.
Supplemental Security income is the only resource available to many individuals with developmental disabilities to pay for housing. A legislative study of residential care costs and exploration of funding to support intellectual and other developmental disability organizations to bridge the gap between an individual’s Social Security income and the cost of housing is necessary.

Georgia is one of a few states that still uses language in policy that conveys negative or derogatory perceptions about people with disabilities. Appropriate substitute language is recommended along with the use of terminology that “puts the person before the disability.” 5

5 The Arc US

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