Disability Policy News In Brief

June 8, 2015

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June 8, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 23
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Congressional Schedule

The House votes on its fifth appropriations measure and could get to its sixth. The Senate debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1735) resumes. AUCD is supporting an amendment to that bill that would increase access to behavioral health care for children with developmental disabilities. Three spending bills are set to be marked-up in Senate committees. The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Paul Ryan (R-WI) is holding a hearing on the Affordable Care Act and the fiscal budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday. 

The Congressional Asian Pacific American, Black , and Hispanic Caucuses - also known as the Congressional Tri-Caucus - prepared a Dear-Colleague letter to Senate Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) outlining four major areas of concern that need to be addressed in the bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Every Child Achieves Act of 2015).  The recommendations and concerns are similar to and in line with the recommendations put forward by AUCD and 46 other national disability and civil rights organizations.  The letter urges Senators to strengthen the bill by 1.) Holding states and schools accountable for meeting the academic needs of all students; 2.) Requiring school districts to equitably distribute resources and close the comparability loophole (see research below); and 3.) Strengthening, making transparent, and enforcing annual data collection and reporting.  The letter makes it clear that the 102 member caucus will oppose the final bill if these principles are not met.  The letter authored by the Tri-Caucus co-chairs: Representatives Judy Chu, G.K. Butterfield, Linda Sanchez, Danny Davis, Chaka Fattah, Raul Grijalva, and Ruben Hinojosa.  AUCD network members are encouraged to urge more Members of Congress to sign-on to the letter.

Today, two civil rights and education organizations released major reports documenting the massive resource disparities in public schools nationwide. Both provide evidence as to why Congress should strengthen the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to ensure greater resource equity in schools.

·         The Leadership Conference Education Fund released its new report on resource inequity in public schools across the nation. Cheating our Future: How Decades of Disinvestment by States Jeopardizes Equal Educational Opportunity examines in-depth how a lack of resources helps to create vastly unequal education opportunities, even for students within the same state.

·         Among the findings in this edition of Education Law Center's new edition of Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card is that fourteen states have "regressive" school funding. These states, which include Texas, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, provide less funding to school districts with higher concentrations of poor students.  Read the full report for more.

AUCD signed onto a letter prepared by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, along with other national disability organizations, to the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calling for a total ban on any aversive conditioning devices in favor of evidence-based positive interventions and supports.  This letter was written as a follow-up to the Neurological Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee to the FDA, a public meeting convened last year on April 24 (see summary of the panel meeting).  After hearing testimony from numerous individuals and organizations advocating for people with disabilities, including AUCD, the FDA's panel determined that aversive conditioning devices used for contingent electric shock present an unreasonable and substantial risk of injury; however, the FDA has not made any final ruling regarding the status of these devices.  ASAN's letter urges the FDA to act on these recommendations.


AUCD signed onto a letter to Congress prepared by the National Fair Housing Alliance in opposition to an amendment offered by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) to the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding bill currently under consideration that would undermine HUD's ability to ensure that all families are treated fairly in their search for a place to live. Specifically, Rep. Garrett's amendment would prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement, administer, or enforce its regulation entitled "Implementation of the Fair Housing Act's Discriminatory Effects Standard" which unified the standard for bringing complaints of housing discrimination using the disparate impact doctrine.   The disparate impact standard holds simply that to successfully challenge a neutral policy or practice that has a discriminatory effect, evidence must be provided to show that the policy or practice does not serve a legitimate business reason and that there is a less discriminatory policy could achieve the same business goals.  No housing provider, lender or insurer should seek to continue a practice that has a discriminatory effect and serves no legitimate business objective. 

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All
Since January, AUCD, has been publishing Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy For All, an adjunct video newsletter to take a deeper dive into some of the topics covered in the weekly In Brief and to do it in a way that might be more accessible and interesting. Below are links to some of the most recent issues #ICYMI (in case you missed it):

Also, please watch for tomorrow's edition, where Liz talks with Michael Murray about increasing employment for people with disabilities in the Federal Government.

AUCD Policy Analyst

AUCD Policy staff are happy to report that Christine Grosso has accepted our offer for the position of policy analyst here at AUCD.  Christine graduated with a Masters degree in Developmental Disabilities Nova Southeastern University and BA in Visual Arts at Echerd College, both in Florida.  She completes her LEND fellowship at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Health Administration in June. She has been an active member of the OHSU Healthcare Transition Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Oregon Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Coalition, and Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities. She also has experience as a supported employment consultant.  Her first day at AUCD is July 20.



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

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

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