Monday, February 2, 2015

Success in Olympia: State Action Day Recap

Another successful State Action Day has come and gone, and what a day it was! MS Activists came from all corners of the state -- as far as Spokane, Granite Falls, and Vancouver -- to be a part of the event. 

Here’s a recap of what MS Activists were up to on January 27, 2015: 

  • More than 40 MS activists came together in Olympia to show their support for people living with MS and conducted over 75 in-person visits with lawmakers
  • At home, activists spread the word via social media and sent more than 80 messages to their legislators 

Together, we successfully raised awareness and made a powerful ask for increased funding for special needs transportation -- services that help people with disabilities get where they need to go. Access to transportation is a major issue for people living with MS. Mobility impairments and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms of MS, and as the disease progresses, many individuals are no longer able to drive.

People with MS and other mobility challenges need and deserve the opportunity to access jobs, shopping, church, and community activities, so they can live as full a life as possible. Washington’s lawmakers have the ability to improve the lives of people with MS by increasing funds for special needs transportation. 

Rep. Linda Kochmar (left) with MS Activist Cermit Rickey (center).
The special needs transportation fund breaks down barriers to transportation for people who are unable to drive because of a disability or age. It funds projects that help local communities offer efficient, coordinated transportation services, such as paratransit or non-profit transportation programs. While paratransit programs are required under federal law, local transit agencies often have a difficult time funding them. 

We can do better—and that’s where we need your help! MS activists are working together to ensure that our state provides adequate funding for accessible transportation. We asked lawmakers to support an additional $160 million in special needs transportation funding in the next transportation package. This ask resonated with many legislators who continue to express their support for this request.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler speaks to the group.
Finally, we were honored to host special guests Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Senator Joe Fain. Commissioner Kreidler spoke to the group about critical insurance issues affecting the MS community, including increasing transparency in prescription drug formularies and improving provider networks. Senator Fain energized the room with his overview of key transportation issues and the value of constituent voices in moving issues forward.

Thank you to all of our activists for raising awareness and speaking up on behalf of the MS community. If you weren't able to attend, you can still make a difference! Email your legislators today and ask them to fund accessible transportation. 

Questions? Want to get involved? Let us know.

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