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Barriers Nix Participation in Legislative Hearings

April 20, 2007

Oregon seniors and people with disabilities could lose promised funding for critical services under a proposed new budget from state Democrats. Many say they aren't getting the chance to weigh in on the issue. They point to physical and transportation barriers that made it difficult or impossible for them to attend and testify at of public hearings held across the state this month. Marj Cannon with Elders in Action says it sends a message that the legislative process isn't necessarily open to everyone.

“It's not held at a time or a place that is convenient for people or even easy for people to get to.”

Advocates and House Republicans are concerned because the proposed budget removes funding from Oregon Project Independence, which allows seniors and people with disabilities to receive care in their homes.

Cannon adds that because of that, many people who tried to testify were shut out.

“There does not seem to be the sensitivity or awareness that there are many people who want to participate in the legislative process, but there is not the sense of how can we make this happen so that we make sure their voices are heard.”

Dondrea Warner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR