Over the course of the last year, ASAN and our allies have been working with our allies in Congress to craft groundbreaking new legislation on employment of people with disabilities. The Transition to Independence Act (S. 1604), introduced last month by Senators Grassley, Wyden and Casey, is the result of those efforts.
This bill would create a ten-state demonstration program that would provide states with Medicaid bonus payments for closing segregated settings, like sheltered workshops, and increasing integrated employment of people with disabilities. You can read the bill text here or check out ASAN’s two page description of the bill on our website.
This is an exciting opportunity for people with disabilities to make real progress in being included in the workforce. And we need your help to make it happen.
Here are three things you can do to help build support behind the Transition to Independence Act.
1) Call your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor S. 1604.
You can do this by dialing the Capitol Switchboard, giving the person there your state and asking to be connected with your Senator’s office. Consider using this script:
“Hi, I’m a constituent of Senator ___ living in [Your Town],[Home State]. I’m calling to ask the Senator to co-sponsor S. 1604, the Transition to Independence Act, bi-partisan legislation introduced by Senators Grassley, Wyden and Casey designed to help people with disabilities get into the workforce. Can I talk to the staffer responsible for Medicaid or disability issues in your office?”
If connected, tell them about S. 1604 and explain why employment of people with disabilities matters to you. Try using this script:
“Hi, I’m a constitutent of Senator ____ living in [Your Town], [Home State]. I’d like to ask the Senator to co-sponsor S. 1604, the Transition to Independence Act. It’s bi-partisan legislation that would reward states with bonus payments for expanding integrated employment. People with disabilities are often stuck in sheltered workshops and other segregated settings. This bill would give states bonus payments if they helped move people into integrated workplaces. Would your office be willing to co-sponsor S. 1604?”
If you aren’t connected, make sure to leave a message for the Senator with the person who picks up the phone, making sure they know the bill number, name and your desire for them to co-sponsor. Either way, ask for an e-mail address to follow up. Try to do this for both of your Senators – remember, there are two in each state!
2) Set up a meeting at your Senator’s District Office in the month of August.
Congress adjourns for most of August, so this is a great time to try and meet with your Senator directly or with senior staff members that work for him or her. Check your Senator’s website to find out where the district office closest to you is, and ask for a meeting during the August congressional recess.
When you attend, feel free to use our two page fact sheet to help educate them about why supporting the Transition to Independence Act is important. After the meeting, e-mail ASAN at firstname.lastname@example.org that we can follow up here in DC.
3) Tweet at your Senators asking them to support S.1604.
This isn’t as effective as calling or setting up a meeting, but can be a useful addition on top of those things. You can find your Senator’s twitter handle here and a list of sample tweets for you to use below:
Expand integrated employment & reduce subminimum wage placements! SupportS. 1604! #FAIRWAGES @[SenUsername]
Community Jobs, not segregated ones! Support S. 1604 & #FAIRWAGES in the community for PwD! @[SenUsername]
Expand employment opportunities for PwD! Support #Fairwages and Employment first- support S. 1604 @[SenUsername]
We need cost-effective supports matching our rising expectations in our work & community! Support #Fairwages & S. 1604! @[SenUsername]
Independence. Integration. Inclusion. Self-determination. #FairWages. S. 1604can help! @[SenUsername]
Make Employment your FIRST option, not segregation. Support #FairWages for PwD & S. 1604! @[SenUsername]
Recruit, Hire, & Train PwD for jobs with #FairWages Support S.1604! @[SenUsername]
Supported Employment not segregation! #FairWages not subminimum! Support S.1604! @[SenUsername]
Aim for Equal opportunity, Full Participation, Independence, & #FairWages in the workforce for PwD! Support S. 1604! @[SenUsername]
Move PwD out of poverty & into #fairwages! Support S. 1604! @[SenUsername]