posted on November 01, 2011 22:36
The first of two hearings on disability related bills were held by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities chaired by Kay Khan and Michael Rodrigues. The hearing was held at Bristol Community College in Fall River. Out of ten bills presented that day, two had the most testimoy (all positive): H. 984, The Real Lives Bill and H. 985, Bridges to Success. Rev. John Odams testified, "We all deserve the opportunity to go home at nite; We all deserve the chance to make choices". Alan Kerzin from DLC stated, "Some students are on the bridge, some students are off the bridge" in reference to the lack of options facing students transitioning from high school to adult life. The Mass. Alliance for 21st Century Disability Policy had worked with Rep. Tom Sannicandro on “Real Lives”. Kathy Kaczynski (MDSC), Sandy Kinney and Dianne Huggon from MFOFC, Ed Bielecki of MASS, John Odams of The Arc, Faith Behum (on behalf of Debbie Pierce and MDDC) and Alan Kerzin (DLC) all presented testimony which was very moving.
For H. 985, DLC provided a good overview of the legislation (Alan Kerzin and Janine Solomon) and others including some from MA21, Rob Park from BCIL and a young man in the transition process supported by Easter Seals provided passionate testimony about the need for H. 985. See The Arc bill platform here. An article in the Fall River Herald is here..
Joining the Chairs at the hearing were Vice Chair John Fernandes, Rep. Jim O'Day and Rep. Paul Schmid. Pictures: Left, Kathy Kaczynski and Ed Bielecki; Right, John Odams sits in front of Alan Kerzin and Janine Solomon and others. On November 15, another hearing which includes Passage for Independence (funding for Turning 22, employment and Wait list) and DDS eligibility bill will take place.