Our advocacy work focuses family members and autistic adults by helping them share their stories.
Autism Society Day on the Hill
Autism Society of America's Day on the Hill is where passion meets strategic public policy and advocacy. Each year, affiliate leaders, national board members, Autism Society volunteers, and staff descend upon the Nation’s Capitol to educate Congressional leaders, policymakers, and legislative staff on critical issues and laws of great importance to the autism community.
Our advocacy work includes:
Developmental Disabilities Advocacy Day
Every year, we join our partners at the Arc of Virginia and head to Richmond for a day of state advocacy. Why advocate with us? Virginia continues to fall behind in providing services to people with developmental disabilities. We are not in compliance with our Dept. of Justice settlement agreement, our waiting list for Medicaid Waivers has ballooned to over 12,000 people and we're facing budget cuts. More than ever, we need you! To stay informed of future Advocacy Days, subscribe to our mailing list below.
Our Advocacy Committee is always looking for new members. Want to join us ?
Contact the committee chair here
2023 VA General Assembly Session
Overview of 2023 Legislative Priorities & How You Can Effectively Advocate with Us
Several autism advocacy organizations across Virginia have joined together to form the Virginia Autism Advocacy Alliance (VAAA), including the Virginia Autism Project (VAP), Commonwealth Autism Services, Autism Societies (Northern Virginia, Central Virginia & Tidewater), Charlottesville Region Autism Action Group (CRAAG), and others.
Our goal is to improve services and strengthen protections for autistic individuals. We strive to unify the voice of the autism community and integrate legislation in a coordinated manner.
We support the DD System Transformation Agenda, Presented by the Arc of Virginia & vaACCSES. This strong agenda seeks to transform Virginia’s System into a more effective and efficient system by building provider capacity and workforce, funding more waivers, and building long-term sustainability into our system. There are several items on this agenda that work towards these goals and improve our system.
There are several bills that we are supporting, opposing, and watching on behalf of our Virginia autism community.
DD Medicaid Waiver System:
· Support HB1963 & SB945 – Combine spending caps for Assistive Technology (AT) and Electronic Home-Based Services (EHBS); Directs the Department of Medical Assistance Services to take steps to amend the Family and Individual Supports, Community Living, and Building Independence waivers to provide greater financial flexibility to individuals with developmental disabilities who are receiving waiver services. (Delegate Runion and Senator Suetterlein)
· SUPPORT HB2315 – Directs DMAS & DBHDS to convene a work group to study methods for and develop recommendations for disseminating information about I/DD services. (Delegate Kory)
· Support HB1602 – Expand access to out of state Medicaid providers: allowing out of state Medicaid providers to continue to treat in Virginia without a physical presence. Licensed Virginia providers who provide telemedicine do not have to have an in-state service address to provide telemedicine. This is important for homebound services and will increase the number of Medicaid providers. (Delegate Robinson)
· Support SB831 & HB1599 – implement a medically needy spend down provision that allows otherwise eligible individuals to spend income in excess of the income limit for waiver services on medical expenses in order to meet the waiver income limit (Senator Favola, Delegate Wachsmann)
· Watching HB1452 – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; appointment of sworn unit investigators to Unit, powers and duties. (Delegate Orrock)
Several additional items are below as budget amendments.
Protect Virginians with DD in the Justice System:
People with disabilities are increasingly coming in contact with the judicial system either as defendants or as victims, and sometimes as witnesses. The criminal justice system is ill prepared for the influx of defendants, and the social service system is not equipped to ensure their due process rights are protected.
VAAA recognizes that advocates must step into the gap and bring autistic voices to the legislature, where these policies are made. To this end, we are opposing bills that seek to roll back rules in the courtroom that currently protect people with disabilities from unjust outcomes. We are also working against bills that seek to return to the policy of severe criminalization of behavior. At the same time, we are advocating for bills that recognize that defendants with developmental disabilities are not always able to control their responses in crisis when encountering law enforcement.
· SUPPORT SB1272 & HB2074 – Provides that a person charged with an offense who has been diagnosed with ASD, ID, or DD shall not be subject to a mandatory minimum punishment if the court finds that the violation was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the person’s disorder or disability. (Senator Boysoko; Delegate Murphy)
· SUPPORT SB1303 – Provides that a defendant with a disorder or disability may file a petition that requests the sealing of the criminal history record information and court records of a Class 4 felony conviction or deferred and dismissed disposition. (Senator Boysko)
· SUPPORT SB1174 – Expedited diversion to court-ordered treatment in lieu of criminal adjudication – Establishes a process where a defendant who is charged with certain misdemeanor violations and appears to have a mental illness may be considered for transfer from criminal court to civil process for court-ordered mental health treatment without any adjudication on such misdemeanor charges. (Senator Mason)
· OPPOSE SB858 – Eliminates “mental illness” from the list of mental conditions for which a defendant may offer evidence to show mental condition at the time of an alleged offense. This bill removes the ability to explain offense by introducing evidence of mental illness, further criminalizing behavior. (Senator Cosgrove)
· SUPPORT SB2106 – Provides that no one shall be subject to arrest for assault against a law-enforcement officer if experiencing a mental health emergency or the officer was called to help in a crisis. (Delegate Bourne)
· OPPOSE HB2241 – Makes it a misdemeanor with mandatory jail time for assault of social service worker. (Delegate Willett)
Protect the right to Vote:
We recognize that people with disabilities and their caregivers often need expanded time for voting. We oppose the following bills that shorten the time to vote absentee or do away with absentee voting boxes:
· OPPOSE SB880, SB1319, HB1499 & HB1901
Protect wages and follow Federal Fair Labor Standards Act:
· Support HB1924 This bill provides for incremental increase in wages for people with disabilities paid at a subminimum wage, and after July 1, 2026 they will be paid at a rate equivalent to all other employees. (Delegate Hope)
· Support HB2153 This bill provides for alternative application process for people with disabilities and requires all available positions at state agencies to be posted on the Alternative Hiring Webpage. (Delegate Guzman)
Protect special education students in public schools:
In 2022 advocates fought against bills that would criminalize the behavior of students in schools. In 2023 advocates continue to push back against unnecessarily punitive approaches to student conduct by school security officers, but there are also several bills to support. VAAA wants to ensure that students with special needs have the benefit of more time for assessments and the assistance of positive behavior supports:
· Support HB1659 Directs the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, in coordination with the Department of Education and relevant stakeholders, to develop and disseminate best practice standards for the transition of services and transfer of records for students with disabilities who reach the age of majority.
· Support HB1981 requires school security officers to follow regulations governing restraint and seclusion in public schools. (Delegate Kory)
· Support HB1980, the bill requires each code of student conduct to include alternatives to suspension, expulsion and exclusion such as positive behavior incentives. discipline alternatives. (Delegate Kory)
· Support HB1884 provides for students with disabilities to take Standards of Learning assessments or Alternative assessments on a less frequent basis. (Delegate Wampler)
· OPPOSE HB1461 – Creates a uniform, 3 strikes system of discipline for disruptive student behavior. This could remove the right for local school districts to manage behavior in schools. (Delegate Wiley)
Support HB2050 and SB1351 – allow local and regional public bodies to hold as many all-virtual public meetings as each such public body deems acceptable in its individual meeting policy. (Delegate Bennett-Parker, Senator Marsden)
Support HB1450 and SB798 – replaces the terms “handicap,” “handicapped,” and with “individual with a physical disability” or “individuals with disabilities” and similar variations. (Delegate Orrock, Senator Hashmi)
2023 Budget Items:
How does this process work?
The Budget from the General Assembly comes as amendments to the Governor’s introduced budget. Governor Youngkin introduced the budget on December 15, and now both Chambers (House and Senate) are proposing amendments to that Budget.
DD Medicaid Waiver System Issues:
· Ensure the following items included in the Governor’s budget proposal are preserved:
· 500 Additional DD Waiver Slots (with a stated goal of ending the Priority One waitlist by the end of his term)
· CL – 70 (bringing the new total for this year’s budget to 170)
· FIS – 430 (bringing the new total for this year’s budget to 930)
· 5% Increase in rates for Personal Care, Respite, and Companion Services ($41.61M)
· 12.5% Increase rates for Early Intervention Services ($1.11M)
· Extend Medicaid to pay support staff who assist Medicaid recipient in acute care hospital settings. (Senator Barker; Delegate Tran)
· Match Supported Living Rate to most integrated Group Home rate (4 people)
· Developing Provider Capacity:
· Workforce Development Campaign
· Business Start-Up or Expansion Incubator
· Drive Market Demand – Educate Individuals and Families
· Increase Peer Mentor Rate
· Create Eligibility for Medicaid Works for DD Waiver Recipients
· Develop Framework for a Core Services Waiver for individuals on the DD Waiver waiting List
Protect Private Special Education Schools:
Oppose the implementation of rate setting for private schools which could do significant harm to our private day schools that are still facing challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Autism Advocacy Day is Back: Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Join with the Autism Societies of Central VA, Tidewater, and Northern VA; the Virginia Autism Project; Commonwealth Autism; LRIDD; and several others for a day at the General Assembly to meet with legislators on issues that impact individuals with autism.
This is a special day that we have hosted for several years for members of VA’s autism community to visit with their legislators, and we are excited to bring it back in-person for the first time since COVID.
Click Here to Learn More & To Register for Autism Advocacy Day
Join Us! How you can effectively advocate:
· Visit this site frequently to stay up-to-date on bills related to our legislative agenda. COMING SOON: Watch our series of 10 minutes videos to learn how you can effectively advocate and receive overviews on current legislation impacting our autism community.
· Visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System (LIS) to search and track bills that are important to you. Familiarize yourself with the details and status of each, and be sure to check back in regularly to track.
Testify in committee hearings. Please let us know if there’s an item you’d like to speak to, and we will do our best to notify you as soon as the committee meeting is announced. Virtual testimony is allowed!
· Visit the Who’s My Legislator website and enter your address to find your Delegate and Senator. Reach out to your Delegate and Senator via phone or email to request their support of specific bills, including WHY issues are so important to you. Before you reach out, be sure to note if your legislator is already a Patron of the bill so you can either thank them or request their support.
· Participate in 2023 Autism Advocacy Day on Tuesday January 31st at the General Assembly to meet with your legislators and be part of a powerful day to make our voices heard!
Virginia House of Delegates Listing – Search for members, filter by committee, build your own list, and more
Senate of Virginia Member Listing – View members & contact information
Legislative Committees – To reach out to members of specific committees
Our Advocacy trainings help YOU learn more about advocacy work so that you can effectively advocate for yourself, your family, and/or other members of the ASNV community. ASNV's Advocacy Committee hosted an autism advocacy training earlier this year! Attendees learned about effective advocacy from a Virginia State Delegate as well as how to best advocate in the school system from an experienced Educational Advocate. The training also covered current pressing autism advocacy issues, advocacy at the community and state level, and preparing for DD Advocacy Day! To stay informed of upcoming trainings, join our e-mail list.
Whether it's an advocacy day, writing letters to your senator or representative, or coming to a town hall, we need your support! Sign up for our advocacy alerts to join us in our fight for autism acceptance.
Every year, the Virginia Ability Alliance, a group of disability nonprofit organizations of which ASNV is a part, sends out surveys to candidates running for public office. The surveys ask about the candidates' views on inclusion, funding for disability services, their own experience with disability, and more. Learn more about the VAA and the surveys by clicking here.