Attention CPA members: our regional legislative teams are springing into action and we need you!
Read below to learn more about the importance of joining a legislative team and how you can go about signing up to be the "boots on the ground" this session!
Louisiana legislature special session
The Louisiana legislature will be going into a special session in early October, and CPA is spending the month of September educating legislators about the enormous challenges the disability community is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the destruction caused by Hurricane Laura.
The main way we reach legislators is through our regional legislative teams composed of CPA members and other advocates.
importance and power behind legislative teams
We discussed the importance and power behind legislative teams with Carrie Mercke, Chief Program Officer with OPTIONS, Inc. in Hammond, LA.
Carrie is the Region 9 Legislative Team Leader.
What do CPA's regional legislative teams do and what role do the regional team members play?
"The importance of the CPA regional legislative teams cannot be overstated. I strongly believe that grassroots advocacy is the best strategy to achieve our short and long term advocacy goals. Along with parents and self-advocates, the regional teams are "the boots on the ground" to ensure that all people with disabilities have access to the support that they need to live their lives as they choose.
The regional teams connect directly with legislators and policy makers to help them understand the impact our services have and the need for proper funding of those services. As a regional team leader, my job is to coordinate the effort so that we achieve maximum impact. Basically, we divide and conquer!
We simply cannot do this alone, so a planned, coordinated effort among the regional team members is critical to a successful advocacy campaign."
How does your regional team approach engagement with legislators and which strategies seem to work best?
"Leading up to and during the 2019 campaign to 'Restore and Rebase' reimbursement rates, our team met face to face every month to check in with each other and plan our strategy. Our goal was to make a personal connection with every Region 9 legislator.
The plan was simple: we discussed existing connections and relationships and team members were assigned to reach out to specific legislators. We focused heavily on face to face meetings in their district offices. Legislators tend to be more relaxed in their district offices, as opposed to on the Capitol grounds.
They have more time, and are more open to hearing our stories. Although the face to face strategy was our primary focus, emails, letters and phone calls are still incredibly important to show that there are large numbers of people supporting our cause.
So in addition to our face to face meetings with legislators, we mobilized the participants and families that we serve and our employees to make those calls and send those emails."
Why is it important for CPA members to get involved with a regional legislative team?
"Legislative advocacy can be incredibly intimidating for some of us, but as professionals and disability rights advocates, I believe that we all have an ethical obligation to do our part.
Joining a regional team provides the support, encouragement and structure to take action in a way that you are comfortable with.
Not everyone wants to jump right in to face to face meetings with legislators, but ALL team members are valuable and can contribute to the effort in a way that works for them."
Find out who your legislative leads are by clicking below and join a team today!
Want To Learn More?
As always, the CPA, Louisiana's leading trade association, is comprised of members who are dedicated to providing quality services to people with developmental disabilities. Our mission is to secure necessary public funding and to pursue initiatives through advocacy, collaboration and education.