AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 4, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  September 4, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 35
  
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Congressional Schedule
Congress is in recess this week and will reconvene next week for just a handful of legislative days in September.  Disability advocates should be contacting their Senators and Representatives while they are in their home states or attending town hall meetings and other events.  See AUCD's Action Center for information about important issues.

Election Update
Children with disabilities were mentioned several times during last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. 
Sher Valenzuela, a candidate for lieutenant governor in Delaware, talked about the experience of raising her son who has autism.  Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum spoke about his daughter, Bella, who has Trisomy 18.  Neither speaker discussed specific policies that would support individuals with disabilities.  Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a leading female Republican in Congress whose son has Down syndrome, did not mention the issue when she took the stage.  The Democratic National Convention takes place this week in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Election Resources
AUCD's Election Guide offers information about the presidential and congressional candidates in your state and where and how to register to vote.  All visitors have to do is enter a zip code!

Project Vote, an organization with a mission to encourage everyone (especially minority and underrepresented populations) to vote, also has very good resources: http://www.projectvote.org/home.html

The Elisabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities (New Jersey UCEDD) recently published a guide to voting called Voting: It's Your Right.  The guide was designed for individuals with intellectual disabilities in New Jersey but may be useful as an example for other states.  Electronic versions in both English and Spanish, as well as an order form for a hard copy of the guide, can be found on the Boggs Center website.

Social Security
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released a new report on the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program.  The report outlines the importance of the DI program as one that provides modest but vital benefits to workers who become unable to perform substantial work due to a serious medical impairment.  It also suggests how policymakers should address DI's funding depletion.  The report also addresses the argument made by program critics that spending is excessive; it finds that the bulk of the rise in federal disability rolls stems from demographic factors, such as the aging of the U.S. population, the growth in women's employment, and Social Security's rising retirement age.

Family Support
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) recently announced the availability of new grants totaling $2.2 million to strengthen existing, and support new, respite services as authorized by the Lifespan Respite Care Act.  Grant awards were made to the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.  The awards will be used to both further develop Lifespan Respite Care Programs that began in FY 2009, as well as to encourage creation of new programs.  For more information, see the announcement here

Disability Treaty
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) could reach a floor vote once the Senate reconvenes this month.  The disability advocacy community has been successful in reaching out to Senators and expressing support of the CRPD. Most recently Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) committed their support for the CRPD.  Sixty-seven Senate votes are needed to ratify the Convention and advocates believe we are about 14 votes short!  Please educate all Senators about the importance of this Treaty and watch for an AUCD alert if you have the following Senators:  Kirk (IL), Murkowski (AK), Snowe (ME), Hutchison (TX), Roberts (KS), Collins (ME), Enzi (WY), Alexander (TN), Cochran (MS), and Burr (NC).  Email kmajewski@aucd.org is you have any questions or updates to share.   

2012 National Forum on Disability Issues
The NFDI is only four weeks away, and everyone is encouraged to participate and ensure the candidates come to Columbus on September 28.  Having the Presidential candidates present will ensure the millions of Americans with disabilities and their families hear firsthand about the candidates' stances on issues such as employment, transportation, healthcare, and education for people with disabilities. 

Consider taking the following four simple steps to participate in and spread the word about the NFDI:

  • Register: The forum will be webcast live for free.  Encourage everyone to register today at www.nfdi.org. This will be an excellent teaching and advocacy opportunity for trainees!
  • Twitter: "Follow" us, and RT (re-tweet) messages frequently, always using #nfdi2012: twitter.com/nfdi. The more voices candidates hear=increased likeliness they will attend! 
  • Invite: Encourage your members and staff to write a letter, compose a tweet, make a video, or take a photo and send it to the candidates. Ask them to invite the candidates to participate and to convey that people with disabilities and their families matter in this election.  More voices=increased likeliness the candidates will attend!  View draft letters and get contact information here.

Contact Kim, Crystal, or George if you have any questions. 

AUCD Disability Policy Fellowship
Applications for the 2013 Disability Policy Leadership Fellowship are currently being accepted. The deadline for applications is September 21st or until the position is filled.  The fellowship is a fantastic opportunity for a network member to live and work in Washington, DC for a year (9-12 months) and learn about disability policy development "hands-on."  Click here to find out more about the fellowship and to read about the current fellow's experiences in DC, through her blog: "Transitioning into a Brave (New) World."  Feel free to email Kim Musheno with questions or a letter of interest. 

 

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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