Legislative News InBrief

May 14, 2007

FY 2008 Budget and Appropriations
Democrats are preparing to finish work this week on the fiscal 2008 budget resolution (BR). The resolution sets the overall cap on discretionary spending. That cap is expected to be more than $20 billion above the cap in the President's budget sent to Congress on Feb. 5. AUCD and other groups are hoping that most of that increase is allocated to the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (L-HHS-ED) spending bill. AUCD recently signed onto a Coalition for Health Funding letter to the Committee leaders urging them to allocate at least $14 billion more than the President's request to the L-HHS-ED appropriations subcommittee. This amount would restore these programs to the FY 2005 level, a high water mark for many, and appropriately account for three years of inflation and population growth to maintain service levels and purchasing power. A total of 795 health, education and human services groups signed onto the letter. Once the overall BR is finalized, the appropriations committees may begin working on the 12 annual spending bills. The House plans to markup the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (L-HHS-ED) spending bill as soon as next week. The Senate plans to take up the L-HHS-ED bill by mid-June.


Crime Victims with Disabilities
AUCD has partnered with the National Council on Disability and the National Center for Victims of Crime to develop a joint national statement that calls for greater public education to raise awareness about the circumstances and needs of persons with disabilities who have been victimized by crime. An on-line "town hall" meeting that will be held by the partnering organizations and sponsored by ILRU on Wednesday, May 30, 2007, at 3:00p.m. (Eastern time). This meeting will connect victim service providers, disability activists, and others from across to country to discuss the joint statement in greater detail and identify specific strategies for addressing the needs of crime victims with disabilities. A flyer with information about how to participate in the online meeting will be emailed to the network soon. This joint effort is the result of the ongoing active work of AUCD's Disability Crimes Action Committee. For more information, contact Kim Musheno.

Higher Education Act
In coalition with the National Down Syndrome Society and other groups, AUCD is meeting with Senate HELP Committee staff to gain support for the inclusion of model demonstration projects for inclusive transition and postsecondary programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities in the Higher Education Act. In addition to model demonstrations, changes are being sought that would permit Institutions of Higher Education to offer work study jobs to students with intellectual disabilities enrolled in postsecondary programs. During the 109th Congress, the House passed a similar work study amendment to the Higher Education Act offered by Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX). A fact sheet prepared by the National Down Syndrome Society is on Post Secondary section of the AUCD Public Policy webpage

Child Abuse Prevention
AUCD staff joined with the National Child Abuse Coalition met with staff of Senator Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the L-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee, to discuss appropriations for programs under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The National Child Abuse Coalition urges Congress to appropriate funding in FY2008 for the CAPTA programs at the authorized level of $200 million to: Support CAPTA basic state grants at the authorized level of $84 million; support CAPTA community-based prevention grants at the authorized level of $80 million; and support CAPTA research and demonstration grants at the authorized (and requested) level of $36 million. AUCD staff emphasized the need for primary prevention programs, such as family supports, and for referrals to comprehensive health and developmental screenings for children that have been abused or neglected. See the Abuse and Neglect subsection on the AUCD Public Policy webpage

Lifespan Respite Care Act
Last week the "Dear Colleague" from Senators Clinton and Warner with 20 additional Senators was sent to the Labor/HHS/Ed Appropriations Subcommittee asking for $40 million in appropriations for FY2008. In addition to efforts to secure funding, state-level coalitions are forming in several states to prepare grant applications if funding is provided. An event was held last week in Chicago with the Illinois Respite Coalition, and two more will be held in North Carolina and Kansas before the end of the month.

Traumatic Brain Injury
The House Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee approved on May 10 a bill (HR 2199) to authorize new traumatic brain-injury research centers and mandate a comprehensive program for treating traumatic brain injuries at health centers.

Office of Special Education Programs
Last week, it was announced that Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Director, Alexa Posny, will be leaving her position at the Department of Education to become the new Education Commissioner in Kansas.