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Record Number of Attendees at 2017 DD Day

Governor Hogan addresses a large crowd at DD Day in Annapolis. People On the Go members Ken Capone (center, rear) and Mat Rice (right, rear) acknowledged a number of legislators who have been instrumental in advocating for the rights of people with developmental disabilities.

Representatives from the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) and People On the Go of Maryland (POG) traveled to Annapolis on Feb. 23 to meet with local and state legislators as part of the legislature’s Developmental Disabilities (DD) Day, an annual event attracting disability advocates from around the state. A record number of 725 people attended the event this year.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan spoke of his plans to support individuals with developmental disabilities as the legislative session moves forward. Ken Capone, public policy director for POG, and Mat Rice, public policy advocate for POG, recognized Maryland legislators and leaders instrumental in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Those legislators included senators Edward Kasemeyer, Guy Guzzone and Craig Zucker; delegates Maggie McIntosh, Bonnie Cullison, Eric Luedtke and Eric Ebersole; and Secretary Dennis Schrader of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Community members also had the opportunity to meet individually with their local legislators.

“Developmental Disabilities Day continues to be important because it sends a clear message to our legislators that people with disabilities [and their providers] care about the future of the disability community in our state, and we are not going away,” Rice said.

Rice testified in support of legislation that would, in part, mandate funding to provide services to people on the state’s Developmental Disabilities Administration’s (DDA’s) services waiting list and who are categorized as needing either “Crisis Resolution” or “Crisis Prevention.” Individuals in the first category are homeless or have been abused or neglected, while those in the second category are—or will be—in a health or safety crisis within the next year. The legislation would help ensure that these individuals get the services they require, so that they no longer need to be listed in either category.

Advocates also demonstrated support for a 3.5 percent mandated minimum rate increase for disabilities services, noting that the governor’s proposed 2018 budget recommends only a 2 percent increase, which would risk the wages of individuals who directly support people with disabilities, and who make it possible for individuals with disabilities to live in the community. The advocates’ work paid off: After DD Day, the state’s House Health and Human Resources Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee restored the full 3.5 percent DDA rate increase.

MCDD Newsletter 2017: Issue Two