From GA co-chairs Steve Kuntz and Doris Illies
 

Historically MRA has approached governmental affairs on a two prong approach, the state and federal levels.  Both have significant impact on not only funding but how vocational services are delivered to people with disabilities.

Let’s start by talking about the state level. Again, this year we are partnering with other groups as we visit members at the state House of Representatives and Senate.  This allows us to better understand the more global issues impacting people with disabilities but also creates a larger presence when we attend.  Again this year we are inviting our members to participate with MNCCD (Minnesota Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities) as they host Tuesday’s at the Capital. As GA co-chairs we are planning to attend on Tuesday April 1st and invite interest MRA members to join us.  We will have information prepared that you can bring to your representative and would encourage you to set up a meeting with them for that day after our briefing.   We are currently working on developing issue statements and welcome input from our members and partners at State VR and other disability organizations.

If you can’t make it on April 1st we would encourage you to contact your legislators with other groups or in your home district. We will do our best to list information on the MRA website www.mnrehab.org  about other organizations days at the hill as we get it and the permission from organizations to post. If you know of any organizations that are hosting a day on the hill, please let us know.

Secondly, let’s talk about the federal level.  As GA co-chair I will be representing MRA at the NRA GA summit in Washington DC.  Along with the Summit I have appointments set with Senator Al Frankin, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Michelle Bachman’s office.  I will be talking with them about the issue statements brought forth from the GA summit and VR program data from Minnesota.  As I am not a constituent of the other districts I don’t have appointments set with them but will be dropping off issue statements and Minnesota VR data – this is where the GA co-chairs have a request from members of MRA.  I would be willing to drop off letters that you have for representatives and have attached a sample letter below that you can use. There is also information on how to find your representatives contact information that you can drop into the letter. A letter from a constituent with the issue statements and VR data makes will get more attention than just the information alone.  I am leaving for DC on Friday March 21st and would need the letters before that date. You can send the letters to my office at Doris Illies/Productive Alternatives Inc.  Box 371, Little Falls MN 56345. Or you could scan them with your signature and email to me at dorisi@paiff.org Thank you in advance for any letter that you write and send with to DC, they really do make a difference!

Should you have questions or comments about legislative issues please feel free to contact either myself or co-chair Steve Kuntz.

Respectfully,
Doris Illies

Who represents me?  Use the district finder at
http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/
Enter your zip code and your representative’s information will be displayed.
 
Click here to download a sample letter in Word Format.
 
To assist in writing a letter to your representative, please review a copy of NRA’s Issue Statements.
 
Date
 
Representative (Senator)( name)
Address
Washington DC (zip)
 
 
Greetings Representative (Senator) (name)
 
I am writing as a constituent of your district with concerns about legislation which will impact the vocational services to people with disabilities.  This letter supports the National Rehabilitation Association 2014 Governmental Affairs Issue statements which are submitted for your review.   I would like to highlight a couple of the issues.
 
Keep the promise of Continuum by keeping the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Education.  The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) currently resides in the U.S. Department of Education, where it has since the U.S. Department of Education became a Cabinet-level Department.  The Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration is Presidentially-appointed individual who is confirmed by the full U.S. Senate and is almost always an individual with a significant disability.  Senate bill S. 1356, the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and the programs authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (VR) , includes legislative language that would move the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) from the U.S. Department of Education to the U.S. Department of Labor.   Along with the National Rehabilitation Association, I strongly support keeping the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Education and oppose any attempted move of RSA to the U.S. Department of Labor.
 
This also brings up another concern:  Downgrading the Office of the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration.  The House version of the reauthorization of the programs administered under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (VR) and the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act, recommended the downgrading of the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) from a Presidential appointee, confirmed by the full U.S. Senate to a Director, appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.  Along with the National Rehabilitation Association, I agree that there is not credible reason for the downgrading of the Office of the Commissioner of RSA and am strongly opposed to any downgrading whatsoever of the Commissioner of RSA.
 
Also, included with the National Rehabilitation Association 2014 Governmental Affairs Issue Statements you will find data specific to vocational services delivery in Minnesota.  Should you have questions or comment about the above mentioned concerns, please feel free to contact me at (phone) (email).
 
Respectfully,
 
 
Name
Address
City, MN, Zip
Phone number