The Pre-Season has begun
The preparations have begun in earnest for the upcoming legislative session which will begin in February. Members of our committee met with Sen. Hayden on Wednesday to discuss the optimal strategy for bringing a new Bill through the process. The committee is made up of folks from The MN Paralyzed Veterans of America, MN Spinal Cord Injury Association, Researchers from the University of MN, and a healthy handful of folks from the SCI community at large. If you are interested in participating in any of these meetings, please email me or post it in the comments and I will add you to our ‘Legislative Committee’.
Our first looming decision is whether we will again pursue a collaborative effort with the TBI community. We made that decision last year in the hopes that a team effort would increase our chances of success considering also the overlap between the research and potential applications. But last year we pursued a direct allocation of funds from Health and Human Services in a budget year. This coming session, referred to by Governor Dayton as the ‘Un-session’ will likely not afford us the same opportunity of pursuing a direct allocation. This leaves us re-investigating a fee associated Bill such as we put forward without much success in 2012. That session found us being opposed by the TBI lobby in fear that our Bill might make their existing funding mechanism vulnerable. A few of us will be meeting this week to discuss our options moving forward.
We also discovered, from Sen. Hayden, how successful the opposition from some in the disability lobby were in making our Bill not palatable to some legislators. We intend to meet with some of those folks in the coming weeks/months hoping that we can at best convince them not to oppose our effort. I don’t expect them to agree with our position philosophically, but my hope is that our budget-neutral approach would not be perceived as a threat.
Lastly, I am heading to Boston later this week to attend the Working 2 Walk Science and Advocacy Symposium. I am looking forward to hearing from many leading researchers and advocates about the global work that is inching us closer to curative therapies for you…our sons, daughters, spouses, parents and friends. If you want to keep abreast of the conference please check in on Kate Willette’s fabulous live blog. The conference begins on Friday morning.