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Trump Cabinet Possibilities: Where is the Disability Representation?

Washington, Nov. 10 – RespectAbility has obtained an internal document from the Trump transition team titled “Trump Cabinet Possibilities.” We have been told the people listed below currently are being vetted for 22 key posts within the Trump administration.

Looking at the list, it is clear that few of the people have any experience in working with the disability community and none of them self-identify publicly as being people with disabilities themselves.

“Fully one-in-five Americans has a disability and the majority of Americans have a loved one with a disability,” RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “It is vital for the Trump administration to reflect America, including talented people with disabilities. The administration needs people who have real, proven experience in enabling people with disabilities to receive the education and training they need to succeed in gaining jobs and independence.”

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Election Tuesday Shows Big Win for Medical Marijuana Legalization

Washington, Nov. 9 – Nine states voted on whether or not to legalize marijuana yesterday. Citizens in Florida, Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas voted on the use of marijuana for medical conditions, and these measures passed in all four of the states where it was on the ballot.

Voters in California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine cast their ballots for whether those 21-years-old and older should be allowed to use marijuana recreationally. California, Massachusetts and Nevada voters approved marijuana for recreational use, while Arizona’s proposed measure was unsuccessful. Maine’s decision is still pending, though at the moment it appears that it may pass.

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Hassan, Advocate for People with Disabilities, Wins New Hampshire Senate Bid

Washington, Nov. 9 – In New Hampshire, Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan beat Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte for the Senate seat in one of the most closely watched and evenly matched races.

Hassan’s first ad told the story of her son Ben, who has cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair user and is nonverbal. As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza pointed out, the ad “grounds Hassan’s reason for going into public service in her own life story.”

She praised all the families that came before hers “who made his inclusion possible.”

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Gov. Bullock, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Wins Re-election

Washington, Nov 9 – Incumbent Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock has won re-election, beating Republican Greg Gianforte.

Bullock completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Gianforte also responded to the questionnaire.

In his response to the questionnaire, Bullock focused on employment, independent community living, veterans with disabilities, education, healthcare, caregivers support and workforce development issues.

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Down Ballot Candidates who Support Opportunities for People with Disabilities Win Big

Washington, Nov. 9 – RespectAbility congratulates Mr. Donald Trump on his win of the presidency and looks forward to working with his new administration in the future and sincerely hopes he will work with diverse parts of America in every sense of the word.

Looking down ballot, several senate and gubernatorial candidates who support opportunities for people with disabilities (PwDs) won big Tuesday night – confirming the results from a new poll released last week. The poll showed that voters were more likely to support candidates who prioritize ensuring that children with disabilities get the education and training they need to succeed as well expanding job and career opportunities for people with disabilities. The poll also showed that voters with disabilities overwhelmingly thought that America was on the wrong track.

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Scott, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Victorious in Vermont Gubernatorial Bid

Washington, Nov. 9 – Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott beat out Democrat candidate Sue Minter for Vermont’s open governorship.

Scott completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Minter also responded to the questionnaire.

Scott mentions in the questionnaire how his commitment to reducing stigmas of people with disabilities led him to write the opening message for the Statewide Independent Living Council’s K-12 curriculum.

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Cortez Masto, First Latina Woman in Senate, Pledges to Fight for Equal Rights for People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 8 – Former Democrat Atty. Gen. Catherine Cortez Masto beat three-term Republican Rep. Joe Heck in a close race to fill the seat of Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, who is retiring after three decades in the Senate. She will be the first Latina woman to be in the U.S. Senate.

Cortez Masto completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Heck also responded to the questionnaire.

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Kamala Harris Wins California Senate Seat

Washington, Nov. 8 – Democrat Kamala Harris is set to be California’s next U.S. Senator, after beating Loretta Sanchez in this year’s election.

Harris completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Sanchez also responded to the questionnaire.

The Harris campaign response spoke of her dedication to supporting legislation that further disability rights.

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Burr Promotes Work on ABLE Act in Campaign, Wins Re-Election

Washington, Nov 8 – North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr, a 20-year Republican veteran of Congress, won a tough re-election against Deborah Ross, a Democratic former state director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Burr completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Ross also responded to the questionnaire.

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Duckworth Unseats Kirk, Wins Illinois Senate Seat

Washington, Nov. 8 – In Illinois, Democrat Rep. Tammy Duckworth successfully unseated Republican incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk for the U.S. Senate seat. Duckworth is a military veteran who lost both of her legs in Iraq after the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2004.

Duckworth completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Kirk also responded to the questionnaire.

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Van Hollen, Advocate for People with Disabilities, Victorious in Maryland Senate Bid

Washington, Nov. 8 – In Maryland, Rep. Chris Van Hollen won the race to become the state’s next U.S. Senator, defeating Republican Kathy Szeliga. Van Hollen completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Szeliga also responded to the questionnaire.

In his response to the questionnaire, Van Hollen talked about his experience of people with disabilities serving on his staff and through his internship program, informing his views.

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Delaware’s Carney Wins Governorship, Follows in Footsteps of Disability Leader Gov. Markell

Washington, Nov. 8 – Democratic Rep. John Carney has defeated Republican state Sen. Colin Bonini for the open gubernatorial race in Delaware. He completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Bonini also responded to the questionnaire.

Carney has big shoes to fill as current Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who is term limited, is a hero to the disability community. Markell’s leadership as chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Better Bottom Line Initiative sets the stage to ensure best practices for expanding competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities. He was awarded recognition by RespectAbility this summer for his leadership nationally in creating more job opportunities for people with disabilities.

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Leahy, Supporter of People with Disabilities, Victorious in Re-Election Bid in Vermont

Washington, Nov. 8 – As expected, Sen. Patrick Leahy won reelection for his U.S. Senate seat representing Vermont. During his campaign, the incumbent senator devoted time to completing the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Leahy’s opponent Republican Scott Milne did not respond to the questionnaire.

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Vital Disability Voter Info

Washington, Nov. 8 – Below you will find  four up-to-the-minute resources to help you this election:

  1. State-by-state voter guides on what specifically candidates for president, governor and senate are saying on disability issues.
  2. Guides broken down by issue from candidates across the county.
  3. Straight Q&A’s with candidates on disability issues organized by state. If you do not see a candidate from a presidential, senate or gubernatorial race, it is because the candidate chose not to answer the questionnaire. RespectAbility is nonpartisan and all candidates were given an equal chance to make voters aware of their views on disability issues.
  4. Apps and information on where to vote, how to vote and who to contact if there is an issue. As voters go to the polls, it is vital to know that voters with disabilities have every right to vote. If you have a problem voting due to lack of access for disability, contact 866-OUR-VOTE, or other resources listed below, immediately. Please let us know as well by emailing LaurenA@RespectAbilityUSA.org. View all of this information on one place on our blog: Disability Voter Resource Guide.

NOW PLEASE GO VOTE! THE DISABILITY COMMUNITY IS 56 MILLION CITIZENS STRONG. SHOW YOUR POWER AT THE BALLOT BOX!

Utilizing candidate responses to both the down ballot and presidential campaign questionnaires, RespectAbility has released 51 state voter guides. View your state’s voter guide below:

Alabama Kentucky North Dakota
Alaska Louisiana Ohio
Arizona Maine Oklahoma
Arkansas Maryland Oregon
California Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Colorado Michigan Rhode Island
Connecticut Minnesota South Carolina
Delaware Mississippi South Dakota
Washington, D.C. Missouri Tennessee
Florida Montana Texas
Georgia Nebraska Utah
Hawaii Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico West Virginia
Iowa New York Wisconsin
Kansas North Carolina Wyoming

RespectAbility fellows, young individuals with disabilities, compiled the responses and packaged stories by topic. Check them out for great policy answers from a wide variety of candidates:

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Candidates on Community Living for People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 7 – Many individuals with disabilities choose to receive home and community based services such as personal care attendants instead of living in an institution. Indeed, studies show it is more cost effective to do so than to live in institutionalized settings such as nursing homes where people with disabilities can no longer participate and contribute to society by working and paying taxes.

Yet coverage of personal care attendant services is available only through Medicaid waivers, and many states have extensive waiting lists. This also becomes a barrier to employment for many individuals with disabilities who lose Medicaid services that provide these and other home and community based services if they choose to work. Other people with disabilities who are not eligible for Medicaid are unable to work to begin with due to lack of personal care attendant coverage through private insurance or Medicare. In 2014, of the 7,224,420 individuals with independent living disabilities aged 18 to 
64 years living in the community, just 1,146,316 individuals were employed – that is only 15.9 percent.

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Disability Voter Resource Guide

Washington, Nov. 7 – As voters get ready to head to the polls tomorrow, many are concerned about various access issues from physical accessibility to voter ID laws. We’ve compiled resources provided by general Election Day voter rights organizations as well as those provided by various disability groups.

See below for apps and information on where to vote, how to vote and who to contact in case there is an issue. Voters with disabilities have every right to vote. If you have a problem voting due to lack of access for disability, contact 866-OUR-VOTE, or other resources listed below, immediately. Please let us know as well by emailing LaurenA@RespectAbilityUSA.org. Did we miss an important resource? Share with us and we’ll update this guide.

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Rhode Island’s Jim Langevin Completes #PwDsVote Campaign Questionnaire

Washington, Nov. 7 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, has asked Senate and gubernatorial candidates on both sides of the aisle to fill out a questionnaire on disability issues. Other down ballot candidates who requested a copy of the questionnaire also were invited to complete it. Democrat Rep. Jim Langevin, who is running for reelection for Rhode Island’s 2nd congressional district, completed the questionnaire. His opponent, Republican Rhue Reis, also was sent a copy but has not responded yet.

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Candidates Detail Disability Policy Positions

Washington, Nov. 4 – A new poll shows that voters are more likely to support candidates who prioritize education, employment and disability policies. So while it’s easy to get stuck in the horse race, readers and viewers are looking for coverage about these important issues. That’s even more true for the 56 million people with disabilities (one in five Americans), more than 35 million of whom are eligible voters (one-sixth of the electorate).

So RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities founded in 2013, asked candidates for president, governor and U.S. Senate 17 questions ranging from topics of employment and housing to education, healthcare and more. Thirty-nine down ballot candidates, including 26 for Senate and 11 for governor, from both sides of the aisle (24 Democrats, 14 Republicans, 1 Green Party) have responded so far, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. An additional nine candidates responded that they are not completing any questionnaires during this campaign season. The responses also are geographically diverse, coming from states all around the country as politicians are paying more and more attention to the disability community. This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale.

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Candidates Talk Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 3 – In theory, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) opened the door to employment for many people with physical disabilities by requiring that buildings be physically accessible. In practice, however, workplace accessibility for many people with disabilities is far from universal.

Many employers have offices in buildings that predate the ADA and therefore don’t have elevators, accessible bathrooms or necessary assistive technology for people of all abilities to be able to work there. In addition, the ADA exempts companies with fewer than 15 employees from having to abide by ADA standards, so many miss out on a chance to work for a smaller organization.

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Candidates Talk Housing for People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 3 – While people began thinking differently about design and accessibility following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, many people with disabilities are unable to find accessible and affordable housing still today.

Therefore, as part of the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire, the nonpartisan, nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility asked candidates running for president, senate or governor about their plans to address this issue. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to respond and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

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