Commentary, Guest Commentary

Delegate Kaye Kory’s Richmond Report

This column serves as an announcement of my establishment of the Accessibility and disAbility Legislative Caucus. This Caucus will meet weekly during the General Assembly session to follow the path of current legislation affecting people with disabilities and their families, and to discuss advocacy or opposition positions and/or activities. Both advocacy groups and legislators are invited to participate. I have started and staffed other successful caucuses, particularly the Joint Women’s Health Care Caucus and the Animal Welfare Caucus. I am fortunate to have college student interns enthusiastic about these subjects who will accomplish the hard work of bill-tracking and staffing the meetings. I look forward to building partnerships between advocates and legislators to accomplish awareness and real change.


Over my years of public service, both as a School Board Member and as a Member of the House of Delegates, I have advocated for the rights of people with disabilities and their families.


I began my legislative advocacy efforts in 2015, when I worked with the ARC of NOVA to develop a bill which would establish Virginia 529A ABLE Savings Accounts. The successful bill allowed the establishment of a savings account with the goal of assisting individuals with disabilities and their families to save private funds to be dispersed to maintain the health, independence and quality of life with such an account used to apply distributions for qualified disability expenses (including higher education expenses) for an eligible individual. These accounts are a key asset for parents wishing to provide for a disabled child in the event of the parents’ death. In succeeding terms of office, I was appointed to the Joint Committee on Health Care and successfully convinced that body to undertake a two year study of the concept of Supported Decision-Making. Supported Decision-Making is a legal step between a guardianship status for an individual with disabilities and complete independence. SD-M creates a contract between a person with disabilities and a court-approved advisor who will literally and legally assist that person in making important, often life-altering, decisions. Several pieces of legislation were initiated by that study–all geared toward increasing the legal independence of a person with disabilities. I was honored to be appointed to the Disability Commission and was elected Chair.


It was during my term as Chair of the Disability that I worked with the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. The VBPD is charged with annually assessing Virginia’s Disability Services System, and submitting annual reports to the Governor through the Secretary of Health and Human Services “that provide an in-depth assessment of at least two major service areas for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth. The Board is also charged with completing a similar analysis as it develops and amends its federal State Plan goals and objectives. The published assessment reports contain policy recommendations that were reviewed, discussed and finalized by an ad hoc committee of the Board and approved by the Board’s Executive Committee. I have based several of the bills that I plan to file for this session on those recommendations. It is important for me to stress that neither the VBPD, nor the Accessibility and disAbility Caucus are politically partisan in any way. These bodies are both designed to further awareness of the issues facing people with disabilities and their families and to work toward building a more supportive and inclusive Commonwealth.