Every summer for the last eighteen years or so, the King County Parent Coalition (KCPC), The Arc of King County’s advocacy arm, hosts a picnic to give families an opportunity to meet with each other and to honor legislators for their commitment to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.
This year’s picnic was held at the Renton Community Center on July 12 and five state legislators were honored for their work. In attendance were other VIP’s from the Division of Developmental Disabilities, King County Developmental Disabilities Division, and The Developmental Disabilities Council. About 115 people were in attendance.
This last legislative session was a difficult one with budget shortfalls to deal with and many special sessions. The five legislators that KCPC recognized this year were key in the I/DD issues and outcomes.
Two legislators were recognized with an award for their career commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families. They are both retiring at the end of their terms this year. We are sad to see them go!
- Representative Mary Lou Dickerson of the 36th Legislative district – She is the current Chair of the House Health and Human Services Appropriations and Oversight Committee. In her 18 year career, she had prime sponsored many bills having to do with people with I/DD and their families. These include early intervention for infants and toddlers, the CIIBS program, voting accessibility, and independent living.
- Senator Margarita Prentice of the 11th Legislative district – In her 24 years in the House of Representatives and the Senate, she has served in many leadership positions including president Pro-Tem this past session and Vice-chair of the Democratic caucus. She prime sponsored bills to consolidate and not allow children in Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC’s) and to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As a parent of an individual with a disability, Senator Prentice has brought a unique and valuable perspective to her role in the Senate.
The next two legislators were honored for their work on SB 6384 in the last legislative session, a bill focused on employment first and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate!
- Senator Karen Keiser of the 33rd Legislative district – She is chair of the important Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee and has been key in implementing health care reform in our state. In her 16 years in the House and Senate, she has prime sponsored many bills, including SB 5457 in 2007 which established the Individual and Family Services Program in DDD. Senator Keiser was third to sign onto SB 6384 this session, she worked across the aisle with the prime sponsor of the bill, Senator Parlette, and she scheduled a hearing on the bill in her committee. The bill was passed out of her committee and went on to pass the Senate unanimously.
- Representative Ruth Kagi of the 32nd Legislative district– She has been in the House for 14 years and is the Chair of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. She has prime sponsored legislation having to do with limiting the use of restraints for juveniles, neurodevelopmental therapies, impact assistance for students in RHC’s, office of education ombudsman, and intensive behavior support for children with developmental disabilities. Rep. Kagi worked hard on SB 6384 and scheduled this bill for a hearing in her committee immediately after it was passed in the Senate. The bill was amended in her committee, finally ending up on the Governor’s desk for her signature.
The final honoree of the night was given an “Emerging Leader on Developmental Disabilities Issues” award. This is the first time that KCPC has given this type of award.
- Senator Joe Fain from the 47th Legislative district – He is serving his first term in the Senate and was elected in 2010. Senator Fain has some personal experience with a person with developmental disabilities named Peter who was part of his basketball team when he was in high school. Peter visited Senator Fain in Olympia this past session to talk about his job and employment for people with developmental disabilities. Peter shared that he was proud to see his high school friend as a Senator. Senator Fain also signed on as a sponsor of SB 6384 and is very interested and engaged with the issues that our community faces.
KCPC and The Arc of King County are so proud to be able to work with these five wonderful and hard-working legislators. We look forward to continuing this work in the future and appreciate the courtesy and respect shown to people with I/DD and their families. We truly appreciate the bi-partisan support that we received for our issues in the Legislature this past year. Even when things got difficult in the Senate, the issues of people with I/DD and their families emerged as a priority in the budget and for that we are so thankful.
One last reminder from KCPC is to attend the 23rd Annual Legislative Forum on November 19th at the Doubletree and to come to Advocacy Day on Wednesdays during the legislative session, from January to April of next year.