Gearing Up for Virtual 2021 Advocacy Days

Hello, advocates! We are so excited to be preparing for another legislative session. Slated to begin on January 11, the session will go for 40 non-consecutive days, which marks the start of a new biennial legislative session.

What’s New

With the start of a new session, it’s time to get ready for GCDD’s Advocacy Days! And per COVID-19 considerations, we have decided to re-develop our Advocacy Days this year. Some of the changes include fewer, more focused events and interactive, virtual initiatives. With the start of a new biennial, we are excited to see all the new bills and legislation.

Our three Advocacy Days are tentatively scheduled for the following dates (note: each of the Advocacy Days will have a policy or budget focus):

  • Wednesday, January 27: Advocacy Day #1

Topic: Home and community-based services (HCBS) Medicaid waivers

  • Tuesday, February 16: Advocacy Day #2

Topic: Inclusive post-secondary education (IPSE) 

  • Tuesday, March 2: Advocacy Day #3

Topic: Competitive, integrated employment/supported employment

Charlie Miller engages with advocates at the 2020 Advocacy Days.
Charlie Miller engages with advocates at the 2020 Advocacy Days.

These dates are subject to change based on the calendar of the 2021 legislative session, which is released in segments across the 40-day session. So please keep an eye out for any updates!

Another exciting change this year includes going all virtual! We are planning to have a more robust schedule that will allow for participants to come and go based on their availability and interest in the agenda items. We have also totally revamped our agenda. We are tentatively scheduling our virtual days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. With longer Advocacy Days, we are excited to have more time for breakout sessions and opportunities to speak with our legislators.

We also want to celebrate you and your advocacy with a virtual awards ceremony on April 15! We will share more details, including how we’re honoring some longtime legislative advocates, so stay tuned.

How to Prepare

We cannot wait to advocate with you during the legislative session. But before we start advocating, we need to make sure we are prepared to speak with confidence to our legislators.

GCDD Council member Nandi Isaac meets Rep. Dale Washburn R-141) At 2020 Advocacy Days.

One of the most important steps we can take ahead of Advocacy Days is to look up our legislators, see what committees they are on and find out how they have voted on issues we care about. With the website Open States, constituents can find bills they are interested in and also search for their legislators. To find your legislators’ voting records, we recommend searching for them on Ballotpedia. Both of these sites are great resources for any advocate to be properly informed.

Once we become informed on the issues and our legislators, we can better advocate for ourselves during the session and beyond. But Advocacy Days are not the only opportunity to advocate! In fact, there are year-round opportunities. Once you have found who represents you and how they vote, feel free to reach out to them on social media or connect with them via email or phone before each Advocacy Day. Make sure to let them know you are a constituent in their district. Each legislator has an important voice in their chamber, and they want to hear from their communities.

One thing we must remember is that these state lawmakers are our friends and neighbors. A lot of these legislators know some information about a lot of different things, so be prepared to educate them on issues you care about. If you are planning to come to our Advocacy Days, feel free to invite them to join you!

Who To Know

Georgia’s 2021 legislative session will be moving at a quick pace, and we want to make sure that you know how to stay most up to date with all the goings-on under the Gold Dome. One of the ways we can do that is by sharing some of our great partners in policy:

Georgians for a Healthy Future

Focus includes bringing healthcare to Georgia’s communities with increasing care, as well as working on expanding Medicaid; also works alongside GCDD to address the waiver waitlist

Georgia Council on Aging

Advocates with and on behalf of aging Georgians and their families to improve their quality of life; often works with GCDD to educate and advise legislators on making recommendations for Georgians who are aging and/or have disabilities

Voices of Georgia’s Children

Advocates for all of Georgia’s children, particularly those whose location, family income, race or family/community circumstances leave them most vulnerable; currently works alongside GCDD to better understand disability issues and how they can exist in all laws, policies and actions to improve the lives of children

Georgia Association of Persons Supporting Employment First

Working on a robust legislative agenda focusing on employment issues for people with disabilities; also focusing on furthering its organizational mission to “advance employment equity for people with disabilities”

We look forward to the session starting on January 11 and for our advocacy to get underway. But until then, please keep a lookout for any updates about our Advocacy Days and bills to watch during Georgia’s 2021 legislative session.

Like always, Georgia, let’s keep advocating!

Sen. Mike Dugan R.30 meets with advocates during 2020 Advocacy Days.