2021 VA General Assembly

2021 Legislative Session Recap:

Thank you to all the advocates and partners who came together to create a strong presence during this year’s Virginia General Assembly session.  While our advocacy efforts during this year’s session looked different than previous years, the ASCV team actively participated by serving on multiple advocacy coalitions, educating legislators on issues related to our local autism community, and arming our community with resources to effectively advocate. 

We are pleased by the number of legislative and funding items that were passed that will positively impact our local autism community:

2021 Budget Items:

Funding for Additional DD Waivers: $7.1 million allocated;
425 priority one waiver slots added

Rate Increases for Personal, Respite & Companion Care: $67 million allocated

Workgroup formed to review DD Waiver Waiting List & Provider Rates

2021 Legislative Items:

Children’s Services Act (CSA) Funding for Special Education Programs: SB 1313, HB 2117 – PASSED

Virtual Supports & Assistive Technology: HB 2197 & 1472 – PASSED
Establishes a workgroup to assess assistive technology and modifications needed to help individuals connect virtually for services & social opportunities.

Criminal Justice Reform: SB 1315 & HB2047 – PASSED
Ensures recognition and consideration of a diagnosis of Intellectual or Developmental Disability throughout the criminal justice process.

Designated Support Person for Individuals with Disabilities in Medical Care Facilities: HB2162 – PASSED
Requires hospitals to allow a person with a disability who requires assistance to be accompanied by a designated support person at any time during which health care services are provided.

Virginia Missing Person with Autism Alert Program: HB2216 – PASSED
Expands the Virginia Missing Child with Autism Alert Program to apply to any missing person with autism, regardless of age.

Virginia Human Rights Act: HB1848 – PASSED
Adds discrimination on the basis of disability as an unlawful employment practice.

We want to thank everyone who joined our advocacy efforts this year by contacting legislators, sharing personal stories, and participating in our Virginia Autism Society of America Affiliates’ Legislative Update event. We are especially grateful to our fellow Autism Society of America affiliates, Virginia Autism Project, Autism Speaks, The Arc of Virginia, and Virginia Autism Foundation for their continued passion and commitment to advocating for Virginians with autism and their familiesWe are proud to be part of such a strong state-wide autism network, dedicated to working together to make these successes possible!

Virginia Autism Society of America Affiliates’ Legislative Update – Program Recap:

“Your story matters. Elected officials are bombarded with graphs, data, and charts, however, what really resonates with them, that makes them feel is a personal story. Your personal story. You do not need fancy words. Communicate your story your way.”
– Conner Cummings, Self-Advocate
 
On Monday, February 1st, the three ASA Virginia Affiliates – Autism Society Central Virginia, Autism Society of Northern Virginia, and Tidewater Autism Society of America – came together to co-host an informative and empowering legislative update. We were joined by a lineup of passionate, knowledgeable advocates, who shared personal stories, resources, and tips for effectively advocating. Our presenters provided thorough overviews of the VA General Assembly, as well as details and updates on current items in legislation, both locally and federally. If you missed the program, the recording is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruzKOmndTww.
 
We are truly grateful to all of our speakers and their organizations for keeping us informed and reminding us how important it is to share our stories to advocate for legislation that is vital to our local autism community!

How You Can Join Us – Tips to Successfully Advocate:

1. Visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System (LIS) to search for each of our legislative priorities by bill number.  Familiarize yourself with the details and status of each and track those important to you.

2. Visit Who’s My Legislator and enter your address to find your Delegate and Senator.

3. Reach out to your Delegate and Senator via phone or email to share your family’s story and the needs related to improving the life of your loved one with autism. Share our Legislative Priorities and specific bills for their support, including WHY specific issues are so important to you. Before you reach out, be sure to note if your legislator is already a Patron of the bill so you can either thank them or ask for their support.

Helpful Links:

Virginia House of Delegates Listing – Search for members, filter by committee, build your own list, and more

Senate of Virginia Member Listing – View members & contact information

Legislative Committees – To reach out to members of specific committees

ASCV’s Approach to Advocacy:

The ASCV team is dedicated to sharing information with our families and educating policymakers on current priorities that impact our local autism community. The ASCV is proud to represent a very diverse community of individuals across the entire autism spectrum and their families. We strive to empower individuals with autism and their families to advocate for the best possible services and support structures for themselves and/or their loved ones.  Our team is committed to our ASCV Options Policy, and we believe that successful programs and services vary depending on individuals’ level of support needs.

We believe that effectively advocating at local, state, and national levels is imperative to improving services and strengthening protections. This requires unifying the voice of the autism community and integrating legislation priorities across federal, state, and local levels in a coordinated manner.  Thank you for joining our efforts!