Posted on October 22, 2018 by admin
NORWICH – Last weekend, local lawmakers and members of the Legislative caucus on Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) State Representatives Mike France (R-42) and Kathleen McCarty (R-38) served on the “Decisions and Debates: A Legislative Forum on Disability Issues” panel hosted by the Norwich Commission on Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) at the Otis Library.
This forum was held as a part of Disability Awareness Week, a series of educational and cultural events that focus on independence, civil rights and self-determination for I/DD individuals.
Reps. France and McCarty joined State Senators Paul Formica and Cathy Osten at this event to discuss the compliance of local services with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as available access to healthcare, housing, public transportation and educational and employment opportunities. The legislators also touched on key disability-related legislation from this past session and addressed topics likely to come up in 2019. The discussions were moderated by Elanah Sherman, NCPD Chairwoman, and Melissa Marshall, Coordinator of the Connecticut Cross-Disability Lifespan Alliance.
“We need to bring regional efforts together to collaboratively ensure mobility and appropriate services for the disabled,” said Rep. France, who voted in favor of Special Act 18-3, which established a task force to study best practices to provide transportation for disabled persons, senior citizens and veterans. “I believe some important first steps include determining how to effectively differentiate a learning disability from a mental illness, expanding ADA-compliant access to state buildings, enabling opportunities to participate in the legal process by providing ADA-compliant jury boxes, determining possible alternative solutions to the Southbury Training Facility, and exploring the option of offering private insurance coverage with sufficient duration of coverage.”
“It is so crucial that we keep advocating for the needs of our I/DD community,” said Rep. McCarty, who co-sponsored Special Act 18-3 and who is a long-time supporter of Camp Harkness, which provides programs to I/DD individuals. “I have held several similar forums in my district to speak with my constituents and local organization leaders. As we continue to find gaps in our services it is important that state spending be prioritized so that funding for critical services such as employment, transportation, and housing that support the ID/D Community, can be protected within available resources.”