With the elections now well behind us, the 62nd Montana Legislature (http://leg.mt.gov) is set to get down to business. The 2011 Legislative Session kicked off on January 3rd and promises to be 90 days of non-stop action scheduled to end on April 22nd.
As many of you are well aware, Montana, like many other states, is strapped for cash because of the slowed national economy and revenues coming up short of projections. As a result, we had to endure a barrage of budget cuts and freezes during the interim and are staring face to face with more potential cuts during the session. In human services, we are also facing the elimination of the one time only funding that was allocated during the 2009 session and that means the potential loss of 80 HCBS waiver slots and a reduction in provider rates for Medicaid services including personal assistance services. We will work hard during the session to try to minimize any human services cuts, which could have devastating effects on the thousands of Montanans and their families who have no choice but to rely on these much needed services. We will advocate to maintain current levels of services and we ask that you too join with us to let your voices be heard about the importance of the services you receive and what the impact would be if you lost them.
Other priority issues we will be following during the session include funding for the MYTransitions transition coordinator position, a resolution to study the feasibility for the state to opt into the Community First Choice Option, maintaining the Health Care for Health Care Workers program, ensuring an accessible mail balloting bill, and funding for the Medicaid for Workers with Disabilities (MWD) program, which, we are pleased to announce, has been a highly successful program since its inception on July 1, 2010. As of November 2010, the MWD program had 228 enrollees and had collected over $40,000 in premiums, $14,000 in November alone.
Travis Hoffman will once again be working in Helena as the statewide lobbyist for Montana’s four Centers for Independent Living during the session. If you are interested in following our work at the session, learning of opportunities to contact legislators when important issues arise please subscribe to the Montana Independent Living Action Alert email listerv by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow action alerts on Twitter by following @mtilactnalrt or by going to http://www.summitilc.org and clicking the Action Alert link at the top.