JEFFERSON CITY- Mid-Missourians with disabilities, as well as advocates for increased legislation, gathered at the State Capitol Rotunda for the 13th annual "Disability Rights Legislative Day" Wednesday morning.
A coalition of individual advocates and disability-related organizations sponsored the event. The rally was designed to keep legislators aware of the disabled, as well as commend legislators for their efforts to introduce disability legislation, according to event coordinator Kathy Brown.
"This year is a little bit different because we're coming here today in a spirit of thanks to our general assembly and our governor for some of those [disabled] priorities they've pushed forward," Brown said. "[But] most of the priorities for the disabled community remain the same."
Republican Senator Scott Rupp has advocated for disability legislation. He said awareness for the disabled and their needs is improving within the capitol. "The big thing is we have to make sure that this is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue," he said. "This is an issue that should be bipartisan. That's probably the biggest success I've seen in the last 10 years and in my time in the legislature."
However, both Brown and Rupp said there is still work to be done to raise awareness, and obstacles in the legislature have been preventing disability advocates from getting their desired amount of reform. "A lot of [the obstacles] come from budgetary issues," Rupp said. "It costs a lot of money to provide services, especially when you have a massive recession that [resulted in] cutting out one billion dollars from the state government over a couple of years."