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News & Announcements

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month02-Mar-2017

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Throughout this month, BIAMI has various activities, events, initiatives, and special programming across the state. A few notable events lined up include our.. Read More...

Urgent Action Need: No Repeal Without Replacement31-Jan-2017

We are asking you to contact your federal lawmakers and urge them not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a comprehensive replacement plan. Congress is currently putting forth legislat.. Read More...

Scott Dingwall Passes Away18-Jan-2017

It is with a great deal of sadness that we announce the passing of Scott Dingwall earlier this afternoon. Back in 2013, Scott was profiled in a video produced for BIAMI (https://www.youtube.co.. Read More...

Click here for more News & Announcements...

BIA HOME : Home : Advocacy

Advocacy

Michigan State Capitol Building

Grassroots advocacy is very important. It is our way as citizens to be involved in the democratic process of our government. The Brain Injury Association of Michigan monitors and maintains a presence with state government and the federal government in conjunction with Brain Injury Association of America. Michigan State Legislators in session We promote policies and legislation that prevent brain injury and enhance the care, services and support available to people with brain injuries and their families. In doing so, we advocate on behalf of the entire brain injury community. We make sure that officials in the state and federal government are kept aware of issues that relate to brain injury. The Association also helps people affected by brain injury learn how to advocate for the services and supports that they need in their lives.

We strongly encourage people with brain injury and their loved ones to tell their stories to their elected officials which will create better state policies to ensure we are meeting the needs of all Michigan residents affected by brain injury.

Tools for Advocacy

Voting ↓

Michigan Votes: Voter Information Center Voting is your constitutional right - Federal law requires that all persons with disabilities be allowed full participation in the electoral process. This includes registering to vote, casting a vote and havingfull access to polling places.

To be eligible to register to vote in Michigan, you must be:
• A U.S. citizen
• At least 18 years of age by election day
• A resident of Michigan and the city or township where you are applying to register to vote

Know Your Rights ↓

• You have the right to vote
• Any American citizen age 18 or older who has properly registered is legally allowed to vote in Michigan
   – There are no restrictions based on guardianship, literacy, mental competency, education, or living situation
   – There is no test or question one must answer before casting a ballot
• You have the right to access your local polling place
• All polling places in Michigan are required by state law to be physically accessible
• Every polling place is now equipped with an Automark Voter Assist Terminal
   – It has the ability to assist voters with different types of disabilities to mark the ballot privately and independently
• The poll worker should make the availability of this machine known and can provide instructions on its use
• You have the right to request assistance with marking and casting your ballot
• As a person with a disability, you have the right to have a family member or friend of your choice accompany you into the booth
   – This person cannot be your employer or a representative of a union to which you belong
• Two poll workers of declared different party affiliations may assist you upon your request
• You have the right to cast an absentee ballot
• As defined by Michigan law, anyone who identifies as being a person with a disability has the right to vote by absentee ballot
• To request an absentee ballot you must send a written request to the clerk of the city or township in which you are registered
   – The request must be received by 2 pm the Saturday before the election
   – You can cast an absentee ballot at any time before the election in person at your local clerk’s office
• People with disabilities who registered by mail are not required to appear in person when voting for the first time

Protect your Rights - Call for Help! ↓

If you have any trouble accessing the polls or feel you have been intimidated, discriminated against or that your right to vote has been violated in any way, please contact:

Election Protection Hotline 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)

Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc. 1-800-414-288-5923

Resources ↓

The Brain Injury Association of Michigan maintains an online advocacy resource called the Legislative Action Center where you can enter your zip code, find out about your Michigan representatives and contact them regarding issues that are of great importance to you and the future of the brain injury community.

Public Policy & Legislation

One of the primary objectives of the Association’s advocacy is to effect public policy that will prevent brain injury and improve quality of life of people with brain injuries.

Over 1,200 individuals with brain injury, family members and concerned citizens subscribe to our Legislative Network to keep up with public affairs that are related to brain injury. Members of the Legislative Network receive periodic emails informing them on policy issues.
Current Issues ↓

Auto No-FaultCoalition Protecting Auto No-Fault Logo
One of the most important advocacy issues is to maintain Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance system, established in 1973, reported to be the best in the nation (Consumer Reports). BIAMI provides leadership and participates in the activities of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) . This coalition is composed of over 214 individuals, consumer organizations, nonprofit organizations, advocacy organizations, and numerous health-related associations.

TBI Act Reauthorization
This Act became a federal law in 1996 and assists the plight of those with TBI in several ways. First, it directed the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct research and surveillance studies. It also funds the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the National Disability Rights Network, providing them state funds (including Michigan) to address the needs of individuals and families with TBI. See Michigan Department of Community Health’s website for more information about Michigan related grant activities.

Who Do You Know? ↓

An important part of public policy advocacy, as inmany things in life, is “who do you know?” Do you personally know one of our political leaders? Perhaps you went to school with, live near to, or are related to such a leader (e.g. Representative or Senator to the Michigan Legislature or the US Congress, or state departments or agency directors, or governmental appointees). Perhaps you are involved with one of the political parties in your in your county, at the state or national level. Please share this information with us. The Brain Injury Association of Michigan would like to add you and who you may know to our database. With your help, we can build a stronger connection with our leaders who we can call upon to assist people with a brain injury, their families and professionals working in the field of brain injury rehabilitation or providing services to persons with a brain injury.

Please contact the Association office with your name and contact information, as well as the name(s) of officials you know. Send this information staff@biami.org, call (810) 229-5880, or send a letter to our office.

Action Alerts ↓

We need your help! The Brain Injury Association of Michigan has an active Legislative Network of people concerned about brain injury that we keep informed of current policy matters. Members receive rapid ACTION ALERTS and regular e-mail updates about important policy issues under consideration in Michigan and Washington, DC. These updates allow people to effectively educate our elected legislators and other government officials on the unique needs of people with brain injury. Here are three reasons why we need your help:

• You have valuable knowledge about brain injury that a legislator needs to make informed decisions
• Legislators want to hear from the voters they represent
• We have power in numbers! Join the Legislative Network

If you wish to receive Action Alerts, consider joining our Legislative Network.

National Action Alerts
The Brain Injury Association of America and the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators both follow federal public policy closely and have sections on their websites to keep you involved. To learn how you can take action on federal issues, visit the Brain Injury Association of America website, and visit the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators website.

Congressional Brain Injury Task Force

The mission of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force is to further education and awareness of brain injury and support funding for basic and applied research on brain injury rehabilitation and development of a cure.

The Congressional Brain Injury Task Force works at the reauthorization of the TBI Act. As the only federal legislation that helps the 3.17 million Americans who live with a long-term disability as a result of a TBI. This law must be reauthorized – bottom line.

The national leaders of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force are: Rep. Bill Pascrel, Jr. (D- NJ), and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fl). Please ask your US Congressman to join the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force. Click here for help in asking your Congressman to join!
Contact Your Legislators ↓

Write your Michigan Legislators online through CapWiz Whether you are responding to an Action Alert or simply wish to express your concerns to your government representatives, you can click on the picture to the left to reach them. Contacting your Legislators will help you determine who they are and provide you with the opportunity to send them an e-mail.

Helpful Hints for Contacting Legislators
Generally, a personal letter (or e-mail) is more effective than a phone call, but a phone call can have a greater impact than a non-personalized form letter (or e-mail). Whereas a staff person from the legislator's office usually handles a phone call, records the important information, and relays the message to the legislator, a legislator sometimes brings the most moving letters with him or her when it is time to vote on a bill. But pick the most comfortable method for you. Whatever method you choose, here are some helpful hints to remember when contacting your legislators…

Writing Your Legislator - Calling Your Legislator ↓

Writing Your Legislator
Write a personal letter (e-mail). It is far more effective than a form letter. Tell your own story about how brain injury affects you, your family, or your community. Consider discussing life before brain injury, as well as how the injury happened.

• If you are writing or calling about a service provided by the state:
   – Identify the service in the first paragraph of the letter or early in the conversation
   – Whether or not it meets your needs as a person affected by brain injury
• If you are writing or calling about a bill:
   – Identify the bill number in the first paragraph of your letter or early on in the conversation
   – Immediately establish whether you would like the legislator to support or oppose the bill
• Try to limit your letter to one to two pages
   – Do not write more than two
   – Legible hand-written letters are just as good as typed letters
   – Be sure you include your return address
• Be polite
• Do not be afraid to ask for a meeting with your legislator or someone from his or her office
• Mail or email a copy of your letter to us or alert us by phone so we can keep track of the advocacy efforts and legislator responses
   – Send copies to BIAMI, 7305 Grand River, Suite 100 Brighton, MI 48114-7379
   – Call BIAMI toll-free 1-800-444-6443

Calling Your Legislator
Calling not only allows you to share your personal story and express your concerns, but also creates a more memorable experience. Instead of words on a page, there is a voice speaking directly to them and a conversation can be had in real-time.

• Prepare your remarks before you call
   – Keep in mind that the person you speak with will very likely be unfamiliar with brain injury
   – Keep notes available if this will make you more comfortable
• Don't be surprised if you don't speak to the legislator directly
   – Staff who answer or respond to the majority of calls will make sure that your comments are recorded and relayed to the legislator
• Identify yourself as a constituent (a resident of the legislator's district) when you write or call
• Be positive, but try to be brief
   – Remember: the staff person you talk to will work even harder on your behalf if this conversation is one he or she remembers fondly
• Include your name, address, phone number and email address
• Most important! Send a "thank you" note (or make a "thank you" call) when your legislator responds to your request

How does a bill become a law? ↓

In Michigan
Click here to learn how a bill becomes a law in Michigan.

In The United States
Click here to learn how a bill becomes a law in the United States.

Ask The Advocate

Do you have a question about the political process? About getting involved in grassroots advocacy? Have a policy concern related to brain injury? Want to join with like-minded people to address policy issues related to brain injury? If so, ask Tom Constand, President of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan by emailing him at tconstand@biami.org.