Friends, Families, and Staff of ADVANCE:
I was in Pierre a few days this past week for the association of Community Support Providers (CSPs) of SD meetings and legislative activities. (ADVANCE is one of 19 CSPs in our state). There are a couple of very significant things going on legislatively. There are two Senate Bills scheduled for committee hearings on Wednesday, February 15th. These bills are:
- Senate Bill 169 is sponsored by Republican Senators Al Novstrup and Brock Greenfield, and Republican Representative Lana Greenfield. This bill would establish a property tax increase of $15 per $100,000 of property in order to increasing funding for Community Support Providers. This would potentially allow us to raise DSP wages by $3 - $5 an hour. (That would be a game changer!). Senator Novstrup met with our association and said that getting new money for CSPs was going to be his focus this legislative session, but he needs us there fighting with him. The first battle will be to get it out of Senate Taxation Committee on Wednesday morning. The association is ordering 100 t-shirts and we'll be flooding the capital that day.
- Senate Bill 147 is sponsored by a variety of legislators and it appears to have some broad support. It goes before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday morning as well. This bill establishes a process for periodic review of medicaid provider rates and makes an appropriation based on the review. This bill could benefit CSPs, nursing homes, and other providers of long term care services.
At our association meeting this week, we came up with a game plan for next Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday is Disability Day at the capitol. The Executive Directors, key staff, interested families, and people receiving support are encouraged to be at the Capitol that day to raise awareness and try to gain support for the two bills. On Wednesday, we want a large group as well to be at the committee hearings. The Senate Taxation Committee will hear testimony on SB169 at 10am, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear testimony on SB147 at 11am.
The support for CSPs this year is amazing, and it is unprecedented that there is a bill (SB169) to focus exclusively on Community Support Providers. How can you help? Our first battle is to get SB169 through the Senate Taxation Committee next Wednesday. You can email the members of the Senate Taxation Committee. Click this link to see the committee members. This will be especially effective if one of the members is a legislator from your district. What do you say? Here are some ideas:
If you are a staff of ADVANCE:
- Talk about yourself including the work and tasks you do every day, how long you have been in your current position and struggles you face due to the wages you earn.
- Talk about the specific services that support people with disabilities and what impact they have. [They increase independence, allow people to be active participants in their communities, ensure health and safety, foster skill development, provide job coaching, meet medical needs, allow people to volunteer, etc.]
- Talk about open shifts, challenges in competing with other local businesses for workers, or how high turnover affects quality of care. [Open shifts and high turnover make it difficult to do anything more than the basic cares. Quality care depends on consistent, quality staff.]
If you are a family member:
- Talk about your loved one and the specific services they receive. Share how the services impact your loved one’s life, as well as your own.
- Talk about open shifts, and staff turnover. How does high staff turnover impact your loves one’s life, as well as your own. [Open shifts and high turnover make it difficult to do anything more than the basic cares. Quality care depends on consistent, quality staff.]
If you are a self-advocate:
- Talk about yourself and the specific services that you receive. Share how those services assist you in your day-to-day activities.
- Talk about the impact staff turnover has on your day-to-day activities. What does it feel like to have staff leave and new staff start working with you?
We realize SB169 is going to be a hard sell due to the fact that it increases taxes. Even personally, this might be something you oppose. However, we really want to show our support for the need to raise wages for our staff, even if the method to do so is not something we all agree on.
If you have any questions, or are considering traveling to Pierre next Tuesday and/or Wednesday, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.