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Category: Blogs

Restaurant Review from CCDC

 

You will not find restaurant reviews on the CCDC blog often, and almost never by me, but today is different.  CCDC took the members of our legislative team who were available to lunch today at Pizzability at 250 Steele Street to thank them for their many hours of tireless work this session.  They were an admirable team and deserved more than lunch.  However, lunch and our undying gratitude are what we can provide.  Our amazing community organizer Dawn Howard chose the location.

Like most restaurants in Cherry Creek North, it is physically small.  Unlike any other restaurant in that area where I have eaten, I did not feel in the way—even when I was objectively in the way.  In any space, when a bunch of us come in at the busy hour we can be..well…in the way.  It only takes a couple of wheelchairs, never mind some canes, walkers, dogs, and general klutziness to make us seem like we are taking over.   When we are doing an action that is exactly what we want, but when we go to eat out, whether individually or in a small group we do not want to feel as if our mere presence is an inconvenience.   So today we show up and our presence overwhelms the place both physically and logistically.  Yet we are greeted with warmth and genuine pleasure that we are there.   When I was objectively in the way blocking an aisle no one bumped into me, no one asked me to move, no one gave me “the look”.  No employee rushed to serve me quickly for the purpose of getting me out of the way.

Most of our crew had ordered but there were three of us left when I arrived.  The bill for three lunches in Cherry Creek North came to $16.   The food was good.  Most significant for me is that they had Gelato—I saw that and forgot about pizza.  The slices that my colleagues ate looked terrific.  They were big, and hot and had many varieties. Salads were an option also and non-alcoholic drinks appeared to be free with the pizza.  They had some alcohol for sale as well…soon they will have pairing suggestions.

As you might guess by the name, this is a restaurant that sells mostly pizza and most of the employees are people with disabilities, particularly people who appeared to have intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Most of the customers eating there today appeared to have disabilities as well.

My personal food tastes are more in line with other places in Cherry Creek North.  Earlier this week I had an hour in between meetings in that part of town and went somewhere else.  The food I like (and admit it is kind of ridiculous food) is more like an overpriced salad with things like goat cheese, grapes, and cranberries.  I had that with unsweetened tea (trying to be good diet wise) and while the food was delicious, and there was much more physical space in this place than at Pizzability, I felt completely in the way the entire time I was there.   It was uncomfortable.  While no one was rude or even unkind it was my presence was made people uncomfortable.   I had to ask several people to move to get to a space to eat.  I actually considered getting it to go even though it was raining and cold that day.  I am sure the people in this restaurant (staff and customers) would have been relieved had I just taken the food to go.  Today, when some of choose to sit outside at the tables (it was probably 60 degrees and felt lovely) they asked repeatedly if we were sure we were comfortable and offered to move things around if we preferred to be inside.  The offer was made in a manner that showed respect and that they valued our business.

There were other cool features.  The menus are paper and you circle what you wanted and write your name.  Accessible for Deaf folks and people that do not speak English, do not read, etc.  Some work would be required to make it accessible for blind folks (there is a menu online).  There was a “sensory corner” with various objects.  Each plate was different and they were painted by artists from the Access Gallery (an art gallery for disabled artists).

There did appear to be someone without a visible disability running things and the way she talked there was a training component for employees.  (I learned later on their facebook page that this is indeed a training program)The employees were working hard and seemed happy, and the work is real work that valued employees do in restaurants every day.  If part of the goal is to train workers for “integrated” jobs, I am sure that will work.  However, some employees may want to stay and be around others with disabilities.   Maybe some will become supervisors or trainers.  Maybe some will prefer to keep doing the great job they are doing today.

Is this segregated?  Maybe?  Not sure that it matters because it is a choice. Doing a good job and being paid for work, and continuing to learn and improve at one’s job is what adults do in our society.  Other groups have businesses that are primarily run by and serve specific communities.  They do not eschew customers from outside groups but they cater to their own communities.  This is how disenfranchized communities build economic power.  There are “pink pages” advertising gay-owned businesses.  There are Latinx and Black Chambers.  Why not promote and support more disability-run/disability positive businesses?  Non-disabled people can work and eat there but the atmosphere and culture stay disability positive.  Just like as a white person I can go to eatery owned, staffed, and patronized mostly by people of color.  I am welcome to show up but not to inappropriately take over the culture of the place (as white people often want to do).   Communities of color started and continue these businesses because there is an economic and cultural need for spaces that do not have to bend to the dominant culture.   That is cultural pride, not involuntary segregation.  We need to start understanding the difference.

We need businesses like this in our community..that is by and for our people.  Where non-disabled allies are welcomed but where our disability culture and our vibe will stay the dominant feeling.   We need to stop defining success by how much we interact with people who do not have disabilities.

I know that I preferred eating lunch in a disability positive environment, among not only my peers/colleagues with disabilities but among other customers and employees with disabilities.   I would rather eat in a place where I feel comfortable and welcome than in a place where I am obviously in the way.  The next time I happen to have an hour in between meetings in Cherry Creek North, Pizzability will get my business!  I encourage you all to do the same.  I am sure they will also welcome those of you without disabilities too.

2019 Legislative Session Wrap Up

This was a busy session as is typical whenever there is a new administration and many new legislators.  Despite some unfortunate partisanship that caused delays,  the reading out loud of 2000 page bills, hearings that occurred during a blizzard, and overnight sessions some great work did get done that will benefit the people of Colorado including people with disabilities.

Before talking about the bills, I want to call out the amazing CCDC team that worked at the Capitol this year.

  • CCDC Board Co-Chair Josh Winkler showed his typical leadership working some bills very hard, following the budget, and mentoring some of our newer volunteer lobbyists. Other board members that participated in the process were Scott Markham and Dr. Kimberley Jackson.
  • Our volunteer lobbying team consisted of Francesca Maes, Michael Neil, Jennifer Roberts, Haven Rohnert, and Linn Oliver with help from Jennifer Remington, Auralea Moore, and Tim Postlewaite.
  • Valerie Schlecht did a fantastic job as our contract lobbyist for mental health issues and stepped up on several other issues as a volunteer. Dawn Howard our community organizer, AKA Cat Herder in Chief did a great job making sure everyone knew what was happening, where people were needed, etc.

CCDC wants to thank our many partners, in particular the Arc of Colorado, Arc of Aurora, Arc of Adams, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, 9-5 Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Senior Lobby, Disability Law Colorado, Colorado Common Cause, PASCO, and Accent on Independence Homecare amongst others.  We also want to thank Colorado Capitol Watch for a great product that made tracking the bills easier.

Because this was a year with many new legislators and many groups rushing to push through bills that had struggled in years past, many of which were bills we were going to support, CCDC made a deliberate decision to NOT run our own proactive bills this year but to focus on our coalition work, and building relationships with the many new Senators and Representatives.   We laid groundwork for policies we want to promote over the next few years while focusing on the many coalition bills and responding to bills that affected our community.    We followed 139 bills.  This report shares the highlights-not every bill that we worked on during the session.

Housing:

This is being dubbed the year of the renter.    There were many bills that helped renters, along with some that will fund affordable housing.

  • HB 19-1085 Increases the property tax/heat/rent rebate program both the amount of the grant and the income limits for people eligible for this grant through July 2021.
  • HB 19-1106 Limits rental application fees to actual costs
  • HB 19-1118: Requires landlords to expand the notice before eviction from three to 10 days, hopefully giving people a way to either find a new place to live or cure the problem that led to the eviction
  • HB 19-1135 Clarifies that income tax credits for retrofitting a home for accessibility are available when one retrofits a home for a dependent.
  • HB 19-1170 Improves warranty of habitability in housing to make it work for tenants.
  • HB 19-1285 and HB 1332 Affordable housing funding
  • HB 19-1309 Creates mobile home park dispute resolution and enforcement program, also increasing time to move if there is sale or eviction.
  • HB 19-1328 Responsibilities of landlords & tenants to address bed bug infestations.
  • SB 19-180 Creates an eviction defense fund to help low-income people

Health Care:

  • HB 19-1044 Allows for an advanced directives for behavioral/mental health.
  • HB 19-1120 Multiple approaches to address and prevent youth suicide
  • HB 19-1151 Revisions to the Traumatic Brain Injury Program funded by the Brain Injury Trust Fund.
  • HB 19-1176 Enables a study of various methods of health care reform including an option for universal health care.
  • HB 19-1189 Reforms wage garnishment laws to take into account medical expenses and medical debt.
  • HB 19-1211 Reforms what health insurance companies can and cannot do regarding prior authorization. This is to stop insurance companies using prior authorization to harass doctors and deny patients.
  • HB 19-1216 Measures to reduce the cost of insulin.
  • HB 19-1233 Health care payment reform to promote increasing utilization of primary care.
  • HB 19-1269 Mental Health Parity-variety of measures to require both private insurance companies and Medicaid to pay for mental health care appropriately.
  • HB 19-1287 Increases treatment funding for substance use disorders
  • SB 19-001 Expands the Medication Assisted Treatment pilot program
  • SB 19-005 Gives state permission to request permission from the federal government to import drugs from Canada to give Colorado residents price relief
  • SB 19-010 Funds professional mental health services in schools
  • SB 19-073 Creates statewide system to allow electronic uploading of advance directive documents so in the case of emergency any hospital can ascertain the wishes of the individual. This is voluntary.
  • SB 19-079 Requires some doctors to submit prescriptions of controlled drugs electronically
  • SB 19-195 Creates a system to better coordinate children’s mental health policy
  • SB 19-222 Increases mental health services for people at risk of institutionalization
  • SB 19-238 Requires the 8.1% increase for personal care and homemaker be passed directly to workers, and sets up stakeholder group to address issues with personal care workforce.

THERE WERE A NUMBER OF BILLS RELATED TO THE COST OF PRIVATE INSURANCE AND HOSPITALS.  PLEASE CHECK OUT THE COLORADO CONSUMER INITIATIVE OR THE COLORADO CENTER ON LAW AND POLICY FOR REPORTS ON THOSE BILLS.

Good Government:

  • HB 1062 Allowing sale of property at the Grand Junction regional center
  • HB 19-1063 Allows information sharing between adult and child protective services and allowed people who are subject to adult protective services to see their own records.
  • HB 19-1084 Requires that staff of legislative council prepare demographic notes on certain bills. For a handful of bills each future session the citizens and elected officials of Colorado will be able to have research on how a bill affects specific (often underrepresented) populations.
  • HB 19-1239 Creates a grant program to do outreach for the 2020 census.
  • HB 19-1278 A variety of changes to election law making it easier for voters
  • SB 19-135 Requires a study of state procurement disparities to see if state contracting is being fair and inclusive to businesses owned by people of color, women and people with disabilities.

Education:

  • HB 19-1066 Requires schools to count special education students in graduation rates.
  • HB 19-1134 Research for better methods to identify dyslexia in young children
  • HB 19-1194 Limits schools ability to expel and suspend children in and below the 2nd grade
  • HB 19-066 Creates grant program to help defray costs of high cost special education students

Employment:

  • HB 19-1025 Limits employers’ ability to ask about criminal backgrounds (with appropriate exemptions) before employee goes through the application process.
  • HB 19-1107 Creates job retention and employment support as part of the Department of Labor and Employment
  • SB 19-085 Increases enforcement for those facing pay-based discrimination
  • SB 19-188 Creates a study of Family Medical Leave

Transportation:

  • HB 19-1257 and HB 19-1258 Brings to the voters a request for state to keep and spend excess revenue for transportation and schools
  • SB 19-239 Creates a stakeholder process to address the changes in transportation

Justice Systems:

  • SB 19-036 Creates pilot program to remind people of court dates
  • HB 19-1045 Provides funding for an office of Public Guardianship
  • HB 19-1104 Creates a right to counsel for parents who are facing custody loss to be represented through the office of respondent parent counsel.
  • HB 19-1777 “Red Flag” bill that sets out when a judge can temporarily take away someone’s gun if they are at imminent risk of harming themselves or someone else. CCDC was initially concerned that this might be based on diagnosis, but it was not.  It is based only on behavior, has many protections and excellent due process.
  • HB 19-1225: Prohibits money bail for some low-level offenses to avoid people being jailed for not having small amounts of money for non-violent crimes.
  • SB 19-172 Makes it easier to prosecute people that abuse at risk adults and makes it clear that inappropriate confinement is abuse and illegal.
  • SB 19-191 Creates defendants’ rights to pretrial bonds to reduce the number of people with low-level crimes sitting in jail just because they are poor.
  • SB 19-223 Reforms regarding the competency process in the criminal court system

State Budget (aka the long bill SB 19-207)

  • Increases personal care and homemaker rates for CDASS and IHSS by 8.1%
  • Funds housing inspections for host homes in the I/DD system for basic life-safety issues
  • Creates an Office of Employment First at JFK Partners
  • State funded SLS and Family Support Services waiver slots
  • Creates a Supported Employment pilot at HCPF for I/DD waivers
  • Provides funding for HCPF customer service
  • Provides funding for food and travel for HCPF Member Experience Advisory Council
  • Provides state mental hospital funding for Disability Law Colorado settlement

Disability Specific:

  • HB 19-1069 Allows Colorado to create our own certification system through the Colorado Commission on the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf/Blind CCDHHDB to adopt or develop a certification system for American Sign Language interpreters. This is address the shortage of interpreters, especially in the rural areas.  THANKS TO THE INDEPENDENCE CENTER OF COLORADO SPRINGS FOR LEADING THIS BILL.
  • HB 19-1151 Revisions to the Traumatic Brain Injury Program funded by the Brain Injury Trust Fund. THANKS TO THE BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF COLORADO FOR LEADING THIS BILL.
  • HB 19-1223 Provides application assistance to people on the Aid to Needy Disabled program to help them obtain approval for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). THANKS TO THE COLORADO CENTER ON LAW AND POLICY FOR LEADING THIS BILL
  • HB 19-1332 Funds the talking book library
  • SB 19-202 Creates a path for accessible ballots for people who are print disabled to allow such individuals to vote in private in our all mail ballot system. THANKS TO THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF COLORADO FOR LEADING THIS BILL.

Overall it was a good year.  There were some disappointments, but there always are—now we have to make sure the bills we like get implemented and make sure people know about these new laws and programs.

 

 

Alert: RA for Access-a-Ride Users with Hearing Issues

If you are an RTD Access-a-Ride user or plan to be, RTD may provide a reasonable accommodation for persons with hearing loss.  The accommodation would allow user to use an email to make or change Access-a-Ride reservations.

For more information please visit RTD website at http://www.rtd-denver.com/accessARide.shtml

Click “Accessibility Services”

Scroll down to “Request Reasonable Modification

Nonprofits would benefit from FAMLI Act –By Julie Reiskin

Letters to the Editor | April 23, 2019

 

I direct a small nonprofit with not a penny extra, and I am in full support of House Bill 188, the FAMLI Act.

This law would give employees partial pay replacement during a personal or family medical situation. We have covered the full salary for our employees on medical leave. Is it hard when someone is off for an extended period of time? Of course, but staff pitch in and help because they know that when they need the coverage, their peers will step in for them. As a result, we have loyal employees who are able to really focus on the job when they are at work. FAMLI insurance will cost us less because employers and employees will pay the small premiums with a 40-60.

Our employees do not abuse this; they are eager to get back to work. Donors rightly expect a high level of accountability, and we take that very seriously. When we make the decisions to pay people while on leave, we do so because it is good business, not because it is “nice.” However, shouldering the entire cost is hard for us as a nonprofit. The FAMLI Act would help tremendously.

In summary, as a nonprofit employer with 30-years post-graduate experience, I can say with confidence that FAMLI is good for Colorado nonprofit organizations.

Julie Reiskin

Executive director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

 

Original Article: Nonprofits would benefit from FAMLI Act

OPINION | A couple of bills to boost affordable housing — without a tax hike

Picture of Clair Levy, Executive Director of the Center on Law & Policy
Picture of Claire Levy, Executive Director of the Center on Law & Policy

If you follow the news or talk to your neighbors, you know Colorado is in the midst of an affordable-housing crisis. The health and well-being of individual Colorado families is at risk as the cost of housing forces them to live in unhealthy homes, prevents them from having a stable place to live, and consumes so much of their income that they cannot afford other necessities or save money for an emergency. Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans are spending more than half their income on housing — a situation that puts them at risk of homelessness.

Colorado Center on Law and Policy began an effort to inject significant new funding into the budget for affordable housing in 2015. Yet, despite growing concerns, the legislature has only provided small amounts of funding for targeted high-cost populations such as people with mental illness and people leaving the criminal justice system. The legislature has not made a meaningful investment that would address the needs of the 275,000 ordinary Colorado households that are spending more than half of their income on rent.

For the fourth time in as many years, state legislators will have an opportunity to consider a bill that will help relieve the housing crisis without increasing taxes or redirecting funds from other priorities.

Developed by CCLP, House Bill 1322 would invest $30 million a year for three years in the Housing Development Grant Fund. That Fund provides grants and loans for a range of needs, including acquisition, renovation and construction of affordable housing, down-payment assistance, mobile home repair and rental assistance for a range of populations.

If HB 1322 is passed, Colorado Division of Housing would consult with stakeholders from urban and rural communities so that the funds address a variety of needs throughout the state. The legislation reflects input of stakeholders from urban and rural areas, convened by Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate.

HB 1322 doesn’t rely on taxpayer dollars or tap into the state budget. Funding will come from the unclaimed property trust fund. This fund holds dormant bank accounts, securities and life insurance proceeds and other abandoned property. While Colorado’s state treasurer makes a tremendous effort to find the owners of these abandoned accounts, hundreds of millions of dollars in the fund remain unclaimed. HB 1322 would put a fraction of that money to good use solving an urgent problem: the lack of affordable housing.

Sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, Sen. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Don CoramHB 1322 has been endorsed by the Urban Land Conservancy, Enterprise Community Partners, Colorado Municipal League, Colorado Counties, Inc., League of Women Voters, Tourism Industry Association of Colorado, Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, Housing Colorado, Colorado Apartment Association, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Commissioners and Counties Acting Together, Habitat for Humanity Colorado, Interfaith Alliance, Boulder Housing Partners, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, city of Boulder, The Denver Foundation, Center for Health Progress, Colorado Senior Lobby, Colorado Bankers Association, 9to5, Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, Together Colorado, The Arc of Colorado, Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, Together Colorado and Wells Fargo Bank.

Legislators should also pass House Bill 1245. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Weissman, and Sens. Julie Gonzales and Mike Foote, this legislation would increase funding for affordable housing by limiting the amount of sales tax revenue Colorado’s largest retailers can keep as their “fee” for collecting the tax. The additional revenue would be transferred to the same housing fund within the Department of Local Affairs, and also would be used to preserve or expand the supply of affordable housing in Colorado. HB 1245 would provide roughly $23 million for housing in the first year and $45 million to $50 million per year thereafter.

Both HB 1322 and HB 1245 will help us begin to address the lack of affordable housing in targeted and creative ways without affecting taxpayers or other funding priorities. Both measures deserve support. Together, these bills could help thousands of Coloradans better afford a home so they can devote more of their hard-earned money to other essential needs.

Claire Levy is executive director of Colorado Center on Law and Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that researches, develops and advocates for policies that improve family economic security and health care for all Coloradans. 

Original Article: A couple of bills to boost affordable housing — without a tax hike

Julie Reiskin quoted in Denverite regarding affordable housing for people with developmental.disabilities

“Julie Reiskin, executive director of the advocacy group Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, is not involved with Stepping Stone. Reiskin has an adult child with a disability and understands the concerns parents like Barbara Ziegler and Arendt have for their children.

“Some kind of permanent affordable housing is what they need,” Reiskin said. “What you’re talking about is someone with very low income.””

https://denverite.com/2019/04/08/parents-raise-funds-to-build-an-affordable-apartment-complex-where-people-with-developmental-disabilities-can-live-independently/

CCDC POSITION ON SB19-182

Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Logo
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Logo

1385 S. Colorado Blvd.  Bldg. A, Ste. 610

Denver, Colorado 80222

03.839.1775

www.ccdconline.org

Julie Reiskin

Executive Director

jreiskin@ccdconline.org

720.961.4261 (Direct)

303.648.6262 (Fax)

 

 

After a great deal of deliberation, cautious debate, legal advice, research, and consultation, CCDC has decided to actively support SB 182, which would repeal Colorado’s death penalty.  We deliberated carefully and at length as to whether or not the bill raised an issue crucial to disability rights and, if so if there was a legitimate reason to urge repeal while maintaining our ongoing opinion that people with disabilities should take full and equal responsibility.  With the help of our legal team, we decided that the answer was firmly “YES” to both questions.

I wish now to focus on some salient issues brought forth from our discussions and analysis.

  • The death penalty falls heavily on the disability community writ large. “As of June 2014, approximately 32 of the last 100 people subject to capital punishment in the United States demonstrated evidence of an intellectual disability.  During that same period, approximately 53 of the last 100 people sentenced to the death penalty demonstrated symptoms or diagnoses of mental illness. Expanding the pool to include individuals who have demonstrated diminished capacity (such as youthful offenders individuals with traumatic brain injuries, who are not included in either of these categories despite still-developing brains and brain injuries having similar effects on the defendant’s culpability, and, therefore, suitability for the death penalty, the list grows to 87 of the last 100.”
  • Further, although there have been legal advancements that might alter these statistics in the future, the lack of a standard has left state governments floundering in the search for solutions and drawn in the Supreme Court, which has issued a long and winding path of decisions.  Beginning with Atkins v. Virginia, the Court has held that it was a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments” to execute a person with an intellectual impairment.  However, the Court has also left it up to state authority to determine how to determine if a person indeed has such an impairment. Subsequent cases show that this has left states unequal in the application of the death penalty and left adrift.  Clear but inflexible rules, such as those that rely solely on IQ scores, have been struck down.
  • The Texas Court of Appeals, which applied a test it had developed in a case called Ex Parte Briseño that was based on a mixture of medical standards from 1992 and the Texas court’s conclusions as to “wh[en] a consensus of Texas citizens would agree that a person should be exempt from the death penalty[,]” was struck down as reliant upon outdated standards that amounted to a mixture of lay misperceptions and stereotypes.  In this time of uncertainty of standards, hyper-prevalence of people with disabilities on death row across the nation, and despite being in a state that uses the death penalty as rarely as Colorado (once since 1967), we argue that Colorado’s own standard on determining intellectual impairment is so high, that an indigent person with a disability and an overworked public defender is too likely to fall through the cracks (and on to death row) for this issue to be ignored. A ban would ensure that no person with a disability, regardless of whether the individual could meet the “clear and convincing evidence” standard under Colorado law, would be put to death.

Support of a ban would show that CCDC stands in solidarity with groups against whom the death penalty has been historically weaponized.

Community Foundation, Boulder County: GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION

Community Foundation -Boulder Logo
Community Foundation -Boulder Logo

 

Advocating for disability rights, Jose at the State Capitol in 2018
Advocating for disability rights, Jose at the State Capitol in 2018

Advocating for disability rights, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) – a grantee of your Community Foundation – advances social justice for people with all types of disabilities.

“What do we mean by ‘cross-disability?’” says Executive Director Julie Reiskin. “We believe that people with different types of disability have more in common than we think. So rather than focusing on a single disability, we work with individuals, service providers, businesses, and government agencies to ensure that people with disabilities have equal rights and equal access – regardless of what their individual disabilities may be.”
Put another way, according to the CCDC website – from Down syndrome to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and autism, to people with brain injuries, people with mental illness, and those who are blind or deaf, and more – “our arms, our hearts, and our services are open wide. We know those of us with disabilities have a lot to offer.”

 

Julie Reiskin, advancing social justice for people with all types of disabilities.
Julie Reiskin, advancing social justice for people with all types of disabilities.
“As a social justice organization, our efforts are broadly-based,” continues Julie, also noting that the CCDC is a member of OneStrongVoice.org, a statewide collaboration among advocates to coordinate messaging around disability issues, from quality and choice to data and care coordination. “Our work is organized by the way our government works – the three branches of government – and we strongly adhere to the idea ‘nothing about us, without us.’”
Indeed, the CCDC is the go-to organization for people with all types of disabilities who need assistance advocating for themselves and others. CCDC is also the go-to organization for many Colorado policymakers who seek to involve the disability community, and who need accurate information or assistance with outreach. “At the state level, we work to create good laws…and stop the bad ones. And we work to enforce laws and policies, also through outreach and education,” Julie explains. “On the federal level, we’ve done a lot of work around saving Medicaid.”
Why Medicaid? “Isn’t that the […] program that has no good doctors, where you have to wait forever to get anything done? Isn’t that a program with endless red tape?” Julie asks hypothetically in a CCDC blog post. “Because without Medicaid, people with disabilities on Medicare are denied necessary services. They cannot get a wheelchair that works outdoors, because Medicare only covers the kind of wheelchair needed for use in the home.”
Meanwhile, a few ways in which the CCDC helps people with disabilities to help themselves include:
  • access to healthcare – the CCDC helps identify what programs individuals may qualify for;
  • reasonable accommodation to access services or at a job – the CCDC provides information about individuals’ rights;
  • helping eyewitnesses understand whether a law or rule was broken, and what can be done to solve a problem; and
  • referrals to government agencies for individuals who are denied access to services or facilities in violation of the ADA.
Additionally, “When you want to become active on behalf of the disability community, we can provide training and help you find out what type of work feeds your passion.”
Julie and Lisa Duran with Puppy 10-3-18
Julie and Lisa Duran with Puppy 10-3-18
“We do a lot of coalition work, bringing people together,” says Julie of the membership organization. “None of us can do this work alone.” Membership is free, and is open to people with disabilities and their allies. Visit the CCDC website for more information, and to join!
Joe Beaver 2018 Gang of 19 Tribute at the State Capitol
Joe Beaver 2018 Gang of 19 Tribute at the State Capitol

Carrie Ann Lucas, Champion for Disabled Parents, Dies at 47

Carrie Ann Lucas, second from left, in 2018 in Windsor, Colo., with her children, from left, Asiza, Heather, Adrianne and Anthony. Ms. Lucas fought for the rights of the disabled, especially those who are parents.
Carrie Ann Lucas, second from left, in 2018 in Windsor, Colo., with her children, from left, Asiza, Heather, Adrianne and Anthony. Ms. Lucas fought for the rights of the disabled, especially those who are parents.

By Katharine Q. Seelye

Feb. 27, 2019

Carrie Ann Lucas, who championed people, especially parents, with disabilities and won a major lawsuit to make Kmart more accessible, died on Sunday in Loveland, Colo. She was 47.

Her sister, Courtney Lucas, said the cause was complications of septic shock.

Ms. Lucas, who lived with a rare form of muscular dystrophy for three decades, was an effective advocate for people with disabilities. A lawyer, she successfully forced several businesses to make their premises more accessible in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

And last year, through her forceful lobbying, she helped change Colorado law to ensure that the disability of a parent or potential guardian could not be the sole basis for denying custody, adoption, foster care or guardianship of a child.

The legislation grew out of her own struggle to adopt her niece, who was in foster care. Ms. Lucas, who used a power wheelchair, breathed through a ventilator, had low vision and minimal hearing, and relied on a feeding tube, went on to adopt a total of four children, all with disabilities.

“We hear things all the time like, ‘How can you be a parent if you can’t throw a football for your son?’ ” she told The Colorado Independent in 2016.

“As disabled people,” she said, “we are always addressing the issue of how society devalues our lives and experiences.”

On Monday, members of both the House and Senate of the Colorado legislature paid tribute to Ms. Lucas and held a moment of silence in her honor. “Carrie Ann Lucas is a testament to doing everything that you can with what you’ve got,” State Senator Julie Gonzales said.

Ms. Lucas’s commitment was evident in her relentless campaign against a measure to allow doctor-assisted suicide (sometimes called “right to die” or “death with dignity”) in Colorado. An active member of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, she appeared at numerous forums to express her outrage at what she saw as the implicit suggestion that people with disabilities had such a low quality of life that their lives were not worth living.

Despite her protestations, voters approved the measure in 2016. Doctor-assisted death is now legal in seven states and the District of Columbia.

It was a rare defeat in a long career of advocacy. Perhaps her most notable legal victory came in a class-action lawsuit against Kmart, to make its stores more accessible.

Ms. Lucas was the lead plaintiff in that suit, filed in 1999, and in a settlement in 2006, Kmart agreed to pay $13 million in damages to shoppers — the largest payout in a disabilities case at the time — and to bring its 1,400 stores into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Kmart agreed to spend as much as $70 million over eight years to do so.

Carrie Ann Lucas was born on Nov. 18, 1971, in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Her mother, LaVerne (Rupert) Lucas, was a sales manager; her father, Philip Emory Lucas, served in the Marine Corps for 20 years and was stationed at the base there. When he retired, the family moved to Windsor, Colo., where he was an appliance repair technician.

Carrie Ann graduated from high school in Windsor and went to Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., graduating in 1994 with a double major in education and sports medicine.

While in high school, she began to lose muscle strength, and by age 17 she was walking with braces. She was in a wheelchair by her early 20s.

Still, she went overseas. She taught middle school science for two years in Saipan, part of the Northern Marianas in the Western Pacific. Her goal was to become a minister, and when she returned to Colorado she earned a master of divinity degree at Iliff School of Theology in Denver in 1999.

As her health deteriorated, her sister said, she became involved with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, which works for equal rights for people with any kind of disability. She investigated and monitored disability rights cases there.

At the same time, she sought to adopt her niece, Heather, then 9, the disabled daughter of her half brother, Eric Gover, whose family, in Tennessee, was unable to care for her. But because of her own disabilities, Ms. Lucas ran into resistance.

She fought the system and, with the help of a court-appointed special advocate, was able to adopt Heather. The experience inspired her to make sure that the same thing would not happen in Colorado.

Driven by the prejudice she saw against parents with disabilities, Ms. Lucas enrolled at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver, where she received a full scholarship. She graduated in 2005 and went on to adopt three more children, Asiza, Adrianne and Anthony, all of whom have disabilities.

Ms. Lucas was executive director of Disabled Parents Rights and served on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. In 2017, she ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Windsor City Council.

She was among several people with disabilities who were arrested in 2017 on charges of trespassing after a 58-hour sit-in at the Denver office of Senator Cory Gardner. They were protesting the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have reduced Medicaid funding and eliminated services that make it possible for people with disabilities to live independently.

In addition to her sister, her half brother and her children, Ms. Lucas is survived by her parents and her partner, Dr. Kimberley Jackson. Her half sister, Kelli Mann, died in 2017.

For the last several years, Ms. Lucas had been writing a blog, DisabilityPride.com, which provided an unvarnished view of her life.

One of her final entries, the day after Christmas, described her fear of what would happen to her children, now in their late teens and 20s, when she was gone. She said she hoped that she had given them “the tools to thrive if given appropriate supports.” But, she added, she was terrified that they would be separated and lose contact with one another.

“My kids are all adopted and lost their first family,” she wrote. “I desperately don’t want them to lose this family too.”

To Read the Original Article:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/obituaries/carrie-ann-lucas-dead.html

Colorado Medical Exemption Program Updates

There are now two programs in CO one for Xcel consumers which provides relief on summer pricing; and the Black Hills program which is year-round reduced rate.   

The Chronic Care Collaborative is the administrator that processes the applications and confirms usage with Xcel or Black Hills to qualify a residential customer.  Sabrina is the staff person who can assist your staff or constituents. She can be reached at 303-993-5056. Or sabrina.padilla@ccc-co.org

What follows is the updated links with the application and information for 2019.  Feel free to post this on your website or include in newsletters with your constituents, members or participants. 

Xcel customers

https://www.xcelenergy.com/billing_and_payment/understanding_your_bill/energy_assistance_options/colorado_medical_exemption_program

The direct link to the info sheet PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe-responsive/Billing%20&%20Payment/Energy%20Assistance/CO-medical-exemption-program-info-sheet.pdf

Direct link to the application PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe/Corporate/CO%20Medical%20Excemption%20Program%20App.pdf

Black Hills 

https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/products-services-programs/colorado-medical-exemption-program

Chronic Care Collaborative web page

https://www.chroniccarecollaborative.org/cmep/


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Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

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