Hello, 2020! It seems like it was only yesterday when we were concerned about what would happen to our computers when the clock struck midnight of a new millennium in the year 2000.
As the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) moves into a new decade, we reflect on a dynamic end to 2019. In November, former Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services and international disability rights activist, Judy Heumann, visited Georgia to present at several forums. She spoke about where we have been, where we are and where we need to go. Her time here culminated with a discussion at the Georgia Disability History Symposium on the role of education in preparing students with disabilities for adulthood, college and career. Secretary Heumann’s message was that each of us has value, that we must work together and that we should focus on the rights of people with disabilities to have a meaningful life in the community – just like all Americans.
Looking ahead, we are fortunate to experience new growth with the addition of two bright new public policy stars, Dr. Alyssa Lee and Charlie Miller. Already, Alyssa and Charlie are helping GCDD envision a public policy effort that examines issues that impact all Georgians, including legislation on health, housing and transportation. They are also encouraging us to consider which parts of those pieces of legislation will support the independence, productivity and inclusion of people with disabilities. With their vision in mind, we look forward to the next level in advocacy and public policy.
As always, the winter edition of Making a Difference is dedicated to the 40-day legislative session that begins this month. Those 40 days are your chance to come to the Capitol and meet with your elected officials. It is a time to tell your story about what it takes to live a meaningful life. My challenge to you is to join GCDD and your friends at one of five Advocacy Days, happening through March.
For our part, GCDD will monitor legislative and budget issues that affect people with disabilities. Specifically, we will follow the progress of House Bill 511 that supports new transportation options in Georgia. We want to make sure that transportation is for all people, including those with disabilities. GCDD will also support the passage of Gracie’s Law, a bill to end discrimination against people with disabilities who need an organ transplant. In addition, earlier this year, Governor Kemp asked most state agencies to reduce their budgets in order to prepare for slower economic growth and to fund his priorities, especially around education. We need to know how this impacts those waiting for services, as well as how it affects funding for inclusive post-secondary education. GCDD will monitor these issues and more with a pledge to keep you informed of what takes place.
Check out GCDD’s website and join our advocacy network so that you can stay informed. We hope you enjoy reading this magazine, and we want to hear from you.
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