AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 10, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  June 10, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 23
  
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The Senate will debate on immigration reform moves to the floor. The Senate also votes on the final passage of a five-year farm policy bill.  New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa is expected to be sworn in to temporarily fill the seat of Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP), Tom Harkin (D-IA), has introduced a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Strengthening America's Schools Act takes many important steps to ensure a high quality education for students with disabilities. It confirms performance targets for schools, eliminates alternate assessments based on modified achievement standards (AA-MAS) and limits the use of alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) to 1% of students. This change reflects research that almost all students with disabilities can achieve at grade-level standards and only the 1% of students with the most significant disabilities require AA-AAS. The bill also includes other evidence-based practices such as universal design for learning, multi-tier assessments, and positive behavioral interventions and supports.  AUCD sent a letter in support of the bill.  The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force also supports the legislation as in line with their recently published Principles for Reauthorization of ESEA. The bill is scheduled for markup Tuesday, where several amendments are expected to be considered.  An Action alert was emailed to the AUCD network today related to an amendment that would severely weaken the bill.

Ranking Member of the HELP committee, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has also introduced a bill called Every Child Ready for College or Career Act. It tracks closely with a draft bill by John Kline, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, in eliminating federal accountability systems in favor of state standards. Both plans would also block grant most federal education spending in order to increase state and local flexibility and allow much broader use of alternate and modified achievement standards for students with disabilities.

Pediatric Research

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been championing legislation called the Kids First Research Act (H.R. 1724), which would divert funding away from the public financing of campaigns and party conventions toward pediatric medical research at the National Institutes of Health. The $200 million Cantor's proposal would be allocated to the NIH Common Fund and restore about 8 percent of the $1.6 billion cut from the NIH under sequestration.  He stated his plans to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote soon.  There is currently no Senate companion bill.

Food and Drug Administration

The Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have urged Senate leadership to bring legislation to the floor to change the oversight of drug compounders. The bill, the Pharmaceutical Compounding and Quality Act (S. 959) passed the committee unanimously on May 22. It would require compounding manufacturers to register and be inspected by the FDA, while traditional pharmacies would continue to be regulated by the states. The bill is in response to an outbreak of fungal meningitis last year traced back to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.

CRPD - Disability Treaty

The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) held a Hill briefing on the Disability Treaty on June 5. The briefing was focused on the impact of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on global commerce and the international accessibility.  Each of the panelists agreed that ratification of the CRPD will create global business opportunities, especially in the realm of assistive technology. Creating accessible infrastructures is dependent upon a global exchange of knowledge on disabilities. Both people with disabilities and the U.S. economy would benefit from working together on innovative accessibility solutions. As noted by panelist Frances West, Director of IMS's Worldwide Human Ability & Accessibility Center, Brazil wants to move to the forefront as a global center for competency in accessible technology.  The global involvement that would result from U.S. ratification of the CRPD would create numerous opportunities for enhanced business and leadership to remain at the forefront in areas of accessible technology and disability policy. 

AUCD staff will be joining other disability advocates this week and next on visits with key Senators to discuss the CRPD.

New AUCD Policy Fellow

AUCD welcomes the new Policy Fellow, Richard Davis, this week. Richard is a Social Worker from the LoneStar LEND in Houston, TX. He has experience in counseling, international work, and community organizing and is particularly interested in issues related to autism. He can be reached at Rdavis@aucd.org

For more policy news, follow Kim and Rachel on Twitter at @kmusheno and @racheljpat

 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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