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Author: Alex Hilke

RespectAbility Disability Voters’ Guide: Los Angeles

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, homelessness, and more

Los Angeles, CA, April 30 – Ahead of the upcoming primary, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its latest Los Angeles Disability Voter Guide. According to the 2021 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are approximately one million people living in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area with some form of disability. The disability community makes up 9.9 percent of the population in Los Angeles County and fully 11.3 percent of California’s state population. 

Nationwide, one-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. 

RespectAbility has asked Democratic and Republican candidates the same key questions about issues affecting people with disabilities, including employment, education, and accessibility. RespectAbility has sent multiple emails and placed many phone calls to the campaigns in order to solicit responses to the questionnaire. Below you can read responses from candidates on the ballot in Los Angeles who have already taken the time to address the concerns of voters with disabilities.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes First Black Woman to Serve on the U.S. Supreme Court

Washington, D.C., April 7 – This afternoon, the United States Senate elevated Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the 104th Associate Justice to serve on the Supreme Court of the United State with a 53-47 vote. Republican Senators Collins, Murkowski, and Romney crossed the aisle to confirm Justice Jackson with the entire Democratic caucus voting to confirm. Justice Jackson makes history as the first Black woman and the first former public defender to serve on the Court.

Before being appointed by President Biden to replace the retiring Justice Breyer on February 25, Justice Jackson served as a Biden-appointed Judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals since June 17, 2021. In 2013, Justice Jackson was appointed by President Obama to the District Court of the District of Columbia.

During her time on the lower courts, Justice Jackson has ruled that public school districts must do their due diligence to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, providing students adequate services before placing them in private school. Justice Jackson has also ruled incarceration facilities must address the needs of every prisoner with a disability upon entry. As a public defender, Justice Jackson defended clients with mental health, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.

2022 Disability Questionnaire for Los Angeles Municipal Elections

RespectAbility, a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of the community, is preparing a nonpartisan voter guide for the 2022 Los Angeles Municipal Elections. The guide will cover a variety of issues that impact the 1-in-5 Americans…

Gov. Kathy Hochul Reinstates New York’s Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities

Albany, NY, March 21 – New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed AB 3130 into law, reinstating the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities. This represents a new opportunity for the Empire State to do right by its residents with disabilities. The office was originally established decades ago under the administration of Gov. Mario Cuomo, but it was subsequently dissolved by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Under AB 3130, the Advocate for People with Disabilities shall coordinate the state’s implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, act as New York’s primary ADA compliance officer for all public activities, and make sure disabled people’s needs are met in public settings.

The Advocate for People with Disabilities will also serve as the state’s advocate for the disability community, working with lawmakers to pass legislation that will make government services more inclusive. The Advocate will also work in conjunction with an Integrated Setting Coordinating Council. More details are available here

Workforce Issues at the 2022 National Skills Coalition Conference

Washington, D.C. March 1 – Last week, the National Skills Coalition hosted their annual Skills Summit, where Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh discussed issues facing the American workforce. Moderated by Andy Van Kluenen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition, the panel discussion centered around how agencies will design, implement, and evaluate skills training programs outlined by the Build Back Better program. 

Centering Equity in the Workforce

This panel discussion featured a special focus on the unique issues faced by workers of color and strategies to serve these job seekers in an equitable manner. Further, the panel underscored the critical need for local communities to effectively engage in the job development process, address job quality challenges, and make the most of educational investments being offered by the federal Department of Education.

First, when each Secretary was asked what their department’s primary mission was under the Biden Administration, Secretary Walsh was quick to point out job creation, noting that “since President Biden has taken office, there have been a historic number of 6.7 million new jobs.” Secretary Raimondo emphasized that there is inherent teamwork between their three departments, saying that “Education teaches the future workforce, Labor helps those that fall through the cracks with further vocational training, and Commerce creates the job opportunities for American employees.”

Vermont COVID Recovery Plan Prioritizes People with Disabilities

Montpelier, VT, February 25 – Vermont recently released their 2021 recovery plan, and it contains good news for Vermonters with disabilities.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress last year, states are rolling out extensive plans about how they will spend federal funds. The Green Mountain State has $478.6 million dollars allocated to drive economic recovery efforts under Gov. Phil Scott. Some of the announced priorities are making homeless shelters ADA compliant, creating a mobile mental health crisis intervention program, providing broadband internet access to people with disabilities, and preventing COVID infections at Adult Day Services.

Overall, Vermont is spending $161.4 million, or 33.6 percent of the state’s CARES Act allocation, on programs that will improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. 

Jonathan Wichmann Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire in Wisconsin’s Governor’s Race

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability, education, jobs, immigration, climate, criminal justice and more.

Madison, WI, February 10 – Republican gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Wichmann responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are over 685,896 people living with some form of disability in Wisconsin and their votes could be crucial in deciding who wins the election in the Badger state. 

Wichmann is the first candidate in the upcoming Republican primary to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility is actively communicating with all candidates in Wisconsin’s upcoming Gubernatorial race.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Jonathan Wichmann’s responses follow: