Wednesday, February 14, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 96



UH students meet with state legislators

By Deanna Sheffield
Daily Cougar Staff

For six graduate social work students, and the 94 people they were asked to recruit for a class assignment, the opportunity to lobby their legislators is right around the corner.

All 100 UH students will attend the biannual Day of Student Legislation on Tuesday.

Once in Austin, the students will participate in workshops throughout the morning, said Ira Colby, dean of UH's Graduate School of Social Work.

Students will then participate in a march to Capitol Hill, followed by a rally, said Sara Lewis, a graduate student involved with the project.

The big event on the agenda, however, is the time allotted for students to speak to legislators. About 50 students are expected to lobby aides and legislators, Lewis said.

"We're looking to talk to legislators committed to human services," Lewis said. "We really want to get our voices out there and tell them that we are out there."

A key issue that students plan to address is Medicaid simplification, with an emphasis on making it easier for qualified families within Harris County to receive insurance, Colby said.

Many children who are eligible for Medicaid may not get the insurance coverage they need because their parents find the application process overly rigorous, he said.

Other issues to be discussed include health care, human rights and welfare reform, Lewis said.

By afternoon, social work students will join other UH students attending as part of UH Day in Austin to request Tier One funding for the University.

"It is the largest meeting of social work students in the country," Colby said. "The big piece will be to see that people can make a difference. It's an important part of being a citizen. Hopefully what happens is that they're still active in the legislative process (in the future.)"

On their last Austin trip, in 1999, 800 social work students from several Texas universities attended, Lewis said. 

The social work departments of Texas Christian University, the University of Texas and UH-Victoria are among those attending this year. It is estimated that more than 1000 college students will attend this year, Colby said.

"It shows what students can do when they organize themselves," Colby said.

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