New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus focused on equity and inclusion

Information for this post comes from New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities Communications Officer Gary L. Brown’s press release.

Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. will once again have the privilege of serving as a member of the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus.

A bipartisan forum within the state legislature, the Caucus is comprised of lawmakers committed to promoting inclusion by considering the impact of the disability community when shaping New Jersey’s public policies.

With approximately 1 in every 10 New Jersey residents living with a disability, the Caucus ensures the collective voices of those individuals is heard in the decision-making process.

Despite progress following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act three decades ago, people with disabilities statewide continue to seek opportunities to be included and represented in all aspects of life as an integral part of society.

“It is an absolute honor to work with my colleagues on the Caucus,” said Diegnan, who has been a champion of those with disabilities throughout his career as a state legislator.

“More than 50 supporting agencies from across the state who perform tremendous work join us as collaborative partners. We all share the same goal of promoting inclusion and helping those with disabilities live fulfilling lives.”

New Jersey, whose Caucus was founded last year, is one of only a few states that have formed a Disability Caucus within its state legislature.

The Caucus meets quarterly with an aim of increasing awareness and providing lawmakers and their staff with a greater understanding of the complexities of the disabilities service system and issues impacting individuals with disabilities and their families.

“This bipartisan Caucus is an opportunity to further improve healthcare, education, transportation, housing, and employment for New Jerseyans with disabilities,” said Mercedes Witowsky, Executive Director of The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, the lead advocacy organization supporting the Caucus.

As chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, much of Diegnan’s efforts in supporting those with disabilities in recent years have focused on making transportation and transportation services more accessible.

“Public transportation is vital for so many New Jerseyans, especially for those with disabilities,” Diegnan said. “These individuals deserve to travel independently, and it’s up to us to do everything we can to identify ways to increase their access and familiarity with various public transportation services.”

Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Senator Anthony Bucco and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn will co-chair the Caucus for the 2022-23 Legislative Session.

The Caucus will convene for its second quarterly meeting April 26. Recordings of all meetings, including the latest, conducted in January, are available for public viewing.

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