Things move slowly in government, and for many bills seeking to become laws, the lag is the biggest hurdle to vault. But for the people most likely to be affected by the new bill, the slow crawl means opportunity to make a change. Particularly in the case of HR 620, it’s allowing for more outcry in the coming new year.
The bill, which makes it easier for business owners to ignore laws put in place by the ADA in an effort to fight discrimination against those with disabilities, currently sits in limbo, awaiting presentation to the House of Representatives.
While the bill sits dormant in these coming winter months, it’s not the time for protesters to fall just as silent. Rather than following the ebb and flow of the life of a nasty bill, its agitators need to be louder than ever, reminding everyone else that it’s still a looming issue. Those not actively involved or affected are easy to forget that it will soon return to life like a bear awakening from hibernation.
With the bear still snoozing under the guise of hibernation, how can we be sure that when it emerges, there will be no casualties?
HR 620 has many cousins in this perilous time, particularly in the field of healthcare. Some newly introduced bills might have direct effects on others incoming or others already adopted, which makes it critical that activists are caught up on as many relevant current events as possible.
For some people, that means the burden of keeping eyes glued to television or other social media outlets and paying extra attention when something healthcare-related is brought up, but there are simpler ways. For example, Ohio University has compiled a list of sources that publish news on healthcare legislation, all in one place. If you’re more social-media savvy, there are ways to be notified when a particular hashtag is trending.
The more in touch you are with current issues and the life cycle of a bill, the better prepared you will be to make an attack — in this case, organizing protests, marketing campaigns, starting your own viral hashtags, and so on.
Join Forces With Other Organizations
While the healthcare industry is receiving the brunt of many legislative changes, there are others who are suffering in silence. First and foremost, the defunding of protected US National Forests and other public lands.
The 2017 budget funneled more money into things like defense and military spending, and that extra money came from several sources deemed “less important,” at least to many of those in power. This includes our National Parks.
With the cut in budget comes a cut in numerous factors:
- Staff, including park rangers and other full-time employees
- Maintenance of trails and walking paths
- Proper land conservation
“The US Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of federal land in the US, would see its budget for trail maintenance drop from $77 million to $12 million, ‘so visitors should be prepared scramble over downed trees and be proficient with maps and GPS as disappearing trail signs are not replaced … ’”
Reading that, it’s easy to see why this cause is such a powerful one to combine strengths within the fight against disability discrimination and the need for the ADA’s original law to remain wholly intact: without the proper funding, the US Forest Service will be unable to maintain trails and pathways, making it impossible for those with mobility issues to enjoy the scenic beauties otherwise intended to be offered to them.
Add to Outsiders’ Perspectives
Some people might have the mindset that HR 620 simply isn’t their battle to fight if they believe they won’t ever have to worry about restricted mobility. In the smallest way this is understandable in light of the increasing numbers of issues that are currently flooding the American people and demanding their attention, but when it comes down to it, that mindset is not only selfish, but short-sighted.
The University of Southern California’s School of Gerontology released an article about the newest technologies coming out to aid an aging population, and included this statistic from the US Department of Health and Human Services:
… (I)ndividuals over the age of 65 will make up nearly a quarter of the population by the year 2040. Throughout our lives the number of older adults will continue to rise, reaching 98 million people over the age of 65 by the year 2060. Age-related changes in vision, presbyopia, and hearing, presbycusis, affect our ability to fulfill life roles, and these changes are universal, regardless of diet and lifestyle effort. Many older people will manage multiple chronic diseases, as more than 90% of people over 65 report at least one chronic condition.
With an aging population comes new challenges that those who have never had mobility issues will soon have to face. Whether that means being wheelchair-bound, using a walker, a cane, or simply not being able to move with the same swiftness as in their youth, eventually they will have to face the fact that restricted mobility isn’t reserved only for those born with a disability.
When they come to this realization, will the ADA still be intact and prepared to protect their rights, or will they look back with regret at never extending a helping hand to those already protesting bill changes?
While HR 620 directly impacts and is harmful to the disabled community, it’s not fair for others to leave it up to only that percentage of the population to fight and deal with the repercussions. This isn’t an “us versus them” situation, unless the us refers to the American people, and them to the current government.
The more people learn this and change their perspective, the more power there will be behind effecting change — or stopping harmful changes from being proposed in the first place.
The most efficient way of changing perspectives circles back to something already discussed — getting the word out through popular means, whether that be local news, newspaper, social media, and so on. Whether you’re being interviewed and extending a plea for help, or being shown protests on the steps of the Capitol Building, all publicity is good publicity, and will bring attention to the cause and why it’s so harmful to the community — the entire community and everyone involved.
Things move slowly in government, but that doesn’t mean the people have to as well. While the first storm may have already passed, everyone knows there are bigger, badder storms coming — so rather than relaxing during the preceding calm, let’s use this time to fortify our defenses to be even stronger.