2017 Disability Capitol Action Day

June 16, 2017

Approximately 30 FREED consumers, staff, and Board members from Grass Valley, Nevada City, Marysville, and Yuba City traveled to Sacramento on Tuesday for the 13th annual Disability Capitol Action Day. We joined over 400 people from across the state who gathered at Cesar Chavez Plaza on I Street for a disability resource fair and rally. We then marched the three blocks to the State Capitol where some of us met with legislative staff to advocate for single-payer health care, continued funding of supports to those with traumatic brain injuries, and the ability for those on Supplemental Security Income or other means tested government benefits to save money for disability-related expenses.

Speakers at the rally included CA Assemblymember Rudy Salas who introduced AB763, which provides state funding to the 28 Independent Living Centers in California. Other people spoke about actions on the Federal level, including the serious threat to Medicaid funding proposed in the House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act, and provisions in the ADA Education and Reform Act which would de-incentivize businesses from having accessible buildings and facilities. FREED’s Board member, William Reed, told the crowd what it is like for him to be an IHSS provider and encouraged us to speak to our legislators about the issues we most care about.

Disability Capitol Action Day is organized each year by the Disability Action Coalition, and this year’s theme was access to health care. We marched from Cesar Chavez Plaza to the State Capitol, chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Medicare for all is the way to go,” and “What do we want? Medicaid. When do we want it? Now.”

During our visits to legislative offices after lunch, community members expressed strong support for SB562, the Healthy California Act, which would establish a single-payer health care system for all Californians. We met with staffers for State Senators and Assemblymembers representing Grass Valley / Nevada City and Marysville / Yuba City. We encouraged them to support SB562. We also thanked them for their support of SB398, (the TBI bill). This piece of legislation provides supports and services to people with traumatic brain injuries. FREED is a provider of these services. Some of our consumers with traumatic brain injuries were at the visits and spoke about how useful and life-changing the programs are for them.

The day was filled with a sense of solidarity and unification across the ability spectrum and a sense of hope for our ongoing journey to increase the rights and resources for people with disabilities. At the rally in the morning, Lydia X. Z. Brown spoke to the need for us to create an intersectional movement. “Those who have the privilege and the power in our community need to be using that privilege and that power to speak with and to lift up those of us who don’t have the same privilege and power,” they said. “Those of us who for too long have been excluded and at the margins even within our own movement need to be at the forefront leading our way forward, demanding our right to life, our right to justice… We’ve still got to fight to make sure that there is a tomorrow and that the next generation of young disabled folks, particularly those who are otherwise marginalized, know that there is a future.”

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