DRO Calls on Governor DeWine to Veto Harmful and Retaliatory Amendment, Protecting Nonprofit’s Mission to Advocate on Behalf of Ohioans with Disabilities

June 28, 2021

Disability Rights Ohio (DRO), a nonprofit organization that receives no state funding, calls on Ohio Governor Michael DeWine to veto the Protection & Advocacy Amendment in the state budget. The amendment would have a chilling effect on effective advocacy, in turn detrimentally impacting the lives of Ohioans with disabilities.

Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) is an independent non-profit organization that investigates instances of abuse and neglect and advocates for the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities. DRO is also designated by the Governor as the protection and advocacy (P&A) system for the state to empower people with disabilities, protect disability rights, and investigate instances of abuse and neglect. This amendment hampers this critical work as it:

• Conflicts with DRO’s independence as the protection and advocacy system and puts at risk the ability to protect the rights of people with disabilities.
• Is unprecedented as no other state or territory in the US has legislative oversight of the protection and advocacy system.
• Holds DRO to a different standard as no other non-profit that receives no state dollars has this kind of legislative oversight.

Governor DeWine can protect the rights of people with disabilities by ensuring that DRO remains independent and can continue to serve as an independent watchdog against abuse and neglect, precisely what the protection and advocacy system intended. Furthermore, DRO’s independence is essential to regularly monitor facilities that provide services to people with disabilities, including children, to ensure they are safe and free from abuse and neglect. And finally, if this amendment is not stricken, it creates an “undue burden” on DRO and diverts precious resources from DRO’s role as an advocate by requiring the organization to participate every two years in a legislative oversight process that is contrary to federal law.

Governor DeWine is familiar with DRO’s advocacy and the important impact it has. In fact, in a video message earlier this year, the Governor praised DRO’s work throughout the pandemic. “Thank you for your continued advocacy,” the Governor said. “We are a better, stronger Ohio because of your great efforts on behalf of so many of our fellow citizens.”

DRO appreciates Governor DeWine’s continued support of our work and his concern for people with disabilities in our state. It’s why we urge him to veto this harmful and retaliatory provision in the state biennial budget.

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