State Senator Patrick M. O’Connor: Advocating for Individuals with Disabilities
Since Senator Patrick O’Connor first became involved in public service, one of his greatest priorities has been to fight for greater resources and support services for individuals with disabilities.
Senator O’Connor continues to fight for those with disabilities by:
- Building lasting relationships with community members and advocacy councils to ensure strong representation and secure maximum possible state resources
- Passing legislation to ensure greater protections for individuals with disabilities and their families
- Providing effective constituent services to connect families with support services and healthcare options
- Frequently visiting local centers like the Friendship Home, Cardinal Cushing Centers, and the Arc of the South Shore to build friendships with residents and visitors
Accomplishments on Beacon Hill:
- Sponsored and Passed Senate Bill 2606, An Act to establish a registry of caretakers found to have substantiated abuse against persons with intellectual disability or developmental disability
Summary: Also known as “Dana’s Law”, this legislation would increase the safety and protection of disabled individuals by establishing a registry of caretakers who have been found to abuse vulnerable individuals under their care.
Progress: Reported on favorably by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Unanimously passed by the State Senate.
- Sponsored and Passed Housing Bond Bill Amendment #3: Establishing a Commission to Study the Feasibility of Increasing Adult Disabled Housing Stock
Summary: Creates a Commission with the task of analyzing the amount of adult disabled housing stock in Massachusetts, determining if any additional housing is needed, and recommending a path forward to meet that level of need.
Progress: Amendment language kept in the final version of the bill and passed into law on May 31, 2018.
- Supported House Bill 3362, An Act relative to employment of persons with disabilities on state contracts
Summary: This bill would create a more diverse and inclusive state workforce by requiring state contracts to include 10% employment of individuals with disabilities.
Progress: Submitted formal testimony requesting the bill’s favorable release from the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. Committee reported favorably and released to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
- Sponsored and Passed FY18 Budget Amendment #390: Cohasset Adult Disabled Housing
Summary: Provides $180,000 for the completion of an accessible home for clients of the Department of Developmental Services, known as the Trettis House
Progress: Adopted to the FY18 State Budget, funding secured and encumbered to the Town of Cohasset.
In the Community:
Organizing meetings between local disability advocates and state departments to increase representation and advance projects.
Attending social events and gatherings to connect with service providers and their community.
Helping to ensure quality special education programming in our schools
Organizing group trips up to the State House for lunch and a tour
Participating in and supporting Special Olympics Events
In the Budget:
Supported Budget Line Items:
- 4110-2000: Funds the Turning 22 program, designed to assist individuals with disabilities when they “age out” of the public school system and transition into a new lifestyle.
- 5920-3000: Supports families who in need of respite services and intensive family supports in order to properly care for a family member with a disability.
- 5948-0012: Funds a program that allows families to find alternatives to out-of-home placements for children with intellectual disabilities, including intensive home-based supports.
- 5920-3010: Provides services under the Children’s Autism Spectrum Disorder waiver and through the Department of Public Health’s Early Intervention Program.
- 5920-3020: Provides funding for the implementation of services and support for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, Smith-Magenis syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome.
- 7061-0012: Funds the Special Education Circuit Breaker Account, which supplements the special needs operations of public school systems.
- 7066-9600: Funds the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI), which gives students with disabilities an equal opportunity to go to college.