AUCD Legislative News In Brief

May 14, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  May 14, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 19
  
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Congressional Schedule
The House plans to take up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act followed by the FY 2013 defense authorization.  The Senate resumes consideration of a House reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.  The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing Thursday titled "The Social Security Administration: Is it Meeting its Responsibilities to Save Taxpayer Dollars and Serve the Public?"  Visit the Committee web site to review the hearing announcement and for testimony and video the day of the hearing.

Budget
The House of Representatives passed Thursday a budget reconciliation bill designed to avoid the automatic, across-the-board cuts ("sequester") scheduled to take place beginning in January 2013.  The bill would achieve this by lowering the cap on discretionary spending by an additional $19 billion in FY 2013 and cutting $310 billion over ten years from Medicaid, Food Stamps (SNAP) and other programs that assist people with low incomes.  (For more details about the House budget, see the
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis). Following House passage of the bill, AUCD staff participated in a briefing led by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D- MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, who announced plans to introduce an alternative bill to avoid the automatic cuts for the first year by targeting agricultural subsidies, closing tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and raising taxes on very high income earners.

 

Appropriations
There is still very little movement on fiscal year 2013 appropriations bills.  The House passed only one of the twelve annual funding bills - the Commerce-Justice-Science measure.  The Senate has not yet taken up any of the twelve annual funding bills.  House Republican leaders are considering bringing several other funding bills to the floor soon, but the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill that funds most disability and health programs is not even on the Appropriations Committee schedule.  The L-HHS-ED bill will likely be the hardest to move because the amount of money allocated to it in the House budget resolution will require deep cuts in programs under its jurisdiction.  The House and Senate will likely develop draft bills over the summer that will then have to be negotiated and folded into an omnibus bill that will be considered after the November election. 

Prevention and Public Health Fund
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was unable to secure the 60 votes needed to proceed to a Democratic bill that would prevent student loan interest rates from doubling July 1.  While both parties want to prevent the rate hike, they disagree about how to pay for an extension of lower rates.  The Democratic bill would close a corporate tax loophole, while Republican alternatives would pay for it by repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act.  AUCD President Tony Antosh, EdD, issued a statement voicing concerns about repealing the Prevention Fund.

Restraint & Seclusion in Schools
Representative George Miller (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, gave a speech on the House floor Wednesday urging Chairman John Kline (R-MN) to consider the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 1381), a bill that would limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.  Rep. Miller mentioned disturbing cases of injury and death that have occurred since his bill was passed by the House with bipartisan support two years ago; unfortunately, the bill never became law.  Miller also sent a letter to Chairman Kline, asking him to schedule a markup for the bill. The committee Democrats also created a webpage dedicated to the issue with background information and the video of Miller's floor statement.  AUCD sent a letter thanking Rep. Miller for his leadership on this important issue.  Today, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) submitted an op-ed in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, further outlining the need for federal standards to reduce restraint and seclusion.  In the article, Rep. Harper mentions a recent report from the American Association of School Administrators: "In promoting the use of these harmful practices, the organization is recommending a policy that could make our schools significantly more dangerous for students and educators alike."  AUCD sent a letter thanking Harper, who is also a cosponsor to the House bill.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), will hold a hearing called "Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students" on Thursday, June 28.  Daniel Crimmins, PhD, Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University and Past President of AUCD, will testify.  Sen. Harkin has introduced a very similar version of the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020).  AUCD supports and is working to gain support for both bills.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to contact your members of Congress about this issue.

ADA Rules on Pool Accessibility
After three days of debate, the House passed the Commerce- Justice-Science FY 2013 appropriations bill that included a provision prohibiting the Justice Department from using funds to enforce accessibility standards for pools, both for new construction and existing pools.  This is the latest challenge to DOJ accessibility standards regarding pools, which have been met with extreme resistance by the hotel industry due to misunderstandings about what the regulations require and the "readily achievable" standard that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to ensure reasonable enforcement.  Representative Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Nadler (D-NY) are among the few who made statements in opposition to the amendment and the precedent it would set.  The next step is to prevent a similar amendment from being introduced and/or passed in the Senate. 

Health Care Reform
AUCD signed on to
comments developed by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Health Task Force related to two major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  One proposed rule is related to how states establish the health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses; the other implements Medicaid eligibility required by the ACA. The CCD comments focused on recommendations to strengthen coordination between Medicaid and the exchanges. 

Affordable Care Act: Get the Facts
AUCD offers facts about the law and its implementation in this new section of In Brief.

Save the Date: National Forum on Disability Issues
AUCD is part of the forum planning committee for the 2012 National Forum on Disability Issues on Friday, September 28th at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio.  This event is a non-partisan forum where presidential candidates are scheduled to offer their visions of policy that affect people with disabilities.  Among the 2012 invitees are President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  The forum will be webcast live providing the opportunity for everyone to learn about the candidates' views on disability issues. If you cannot make it to Columbus, Ohio, please organize a watch party.  For general information on the forum contact Sue Hetrick with Ability Center (
shetrick@abilitycenter.org).  Invitations to the presidential nominees were mailed last week.

 

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website: http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=164

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