Disability Policy News In Brief

February 22, 2016

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday
February 22, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 60
AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, FacebookAUCD, Disability Policy News InBrief, every Monday, TwitterDisability Policy News InBrief, every Monday, SharespaceAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, YouTube list Tuesday Morning with LizspaceAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, Subscription formAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, ArchiveAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, RSS


President Obama submitted his budget request for the Fiscal Year 2017 to Congress on February 9. The request adheres to the discretionary spending limited established through the bipartisan budget deal agreed upon in December. See AUCD's Special Budget Report for a summary of funding provided in the President's Request for programs within Departments of Health, Human Services, and Education.

AUCD signed on to a letter in support of greater funding for Congressional subcommittees that handle appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies. The letter urges lawmakers on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to give a greater amount of funding known as the 302(b) sub-allocation to the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee and the Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee. Both subcommittees use funding provided through the 302(b) sub-allocation to finance health, education, and labor policy programs included in the federal budget.  Larger 302(b) sub-allocations to both subcommittees will help secure greater funding for investment in health, education, and labor initiatives that help individuals with disabilities.

Zika Virus

AUCD signed onto a letter in support of President Obama's $1.8 billion emergency funding request to address the Zika virus via public health programs. The President's request includes $1.48 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as $828 million for the Centers on Disease Control (CDC) to monitor the infection's spread and $200 million to invest in vaccine research. The letter was sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees as well as the House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittees.  

Health Care

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee conducted a markup on a number of bills that support biomedical research, including S. 800 - Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at NIH Act and S. 2030 - Advancing Targeted Therapies for Rare Diseases Act of 2015, which seeks to ease gene therapy research. The committee also marked up measures that would expand NIH funding and opportunities for new researchers, such as S. 2014 - Next Generation Researchers Act. The committee sent all bills to the Senate floor, where they must be voted on successfully in order to proceed.

Veterans' Compensation

The House passed H.R. 677, the American Heroes COLA Act of 2015, which requires annual Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLA) to be made to the rates of disability compensation given to veterans who have disabilities connected to their military service. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and also mandates COLA to the rates of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for the survivors of certain veterans.


States are currently in the process of releasing their states plans for implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). These plans are due by April 1. The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), Massachusetts' University Center, is tracking the status of each state's WIOA plan release for public comment. The latest update can be found here. ICI has also recently released a guide for review of WIOA State Plans from a disability perspective, which is intended to assist in reviewing state plans in terms of their response specifically to the needs of individuals with disabilities - both by the general workforce development system and public vocational rehabilitation.        


On February 10, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing - "Next Steps for K-12 Education: Implementing the Promise to Restore State and Local Control" The purpose of the hearing, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), appeared to be to ensure that the public understands that the purpose of the Every Student Achieves Act is to return key authority over elementary and secondary schools back to states and districts. ESSA "includes more than 50 provisions to keep the Department of Education in check" when it comes to accountability, standards, assessments, and more, said the chairman in his opening statement.  Top Democrats on the committee made it clear they'll be keeping their eye on the department and states to make sure that they don't use this newfound flexibility to trample on protections for historically overlooked groups of students, such as English-language learners and those in special education.  Selene Almazan, the legal director for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and a member of CCD  testified about the important role for the federal government in making sure states look out for children with low-income, racial minorities, students with disabilities. Read all of the testimony and see the archived hearing on the committee website.

On February 23, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing, "ESSA Implementation in States and School Districts: Perspectives from Education Leaders" to examine how the Every Student Succeeds Act will affect schools in different parts of the country. Gary Herbert, the Governor of Utah will testify before the committee, as will superintendents from school systems in Illinois and Wisconsin and senior figures from the Migration Policy Institute, the National Education Association, the Education Trust and the American Federation of Teachers.

Acting Secretary of Education King to Testify on Department Priorities

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold two hearings this week (February 24 - "Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education" and February 25 - "Next Steps for K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act") featuring testimony from Dr. John B. King, Jr., acting secretary of education. Members will first have the opportunity to broadly examine the department's policies and priorities, followed up by a separate hearing on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. 

Dyslexia Research

President Obama signed H.R. 3033, the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia (READ) Act on February 18. The new law requires the President's annual budget request to Congress to include a line item for the National Science Foundation's Research in Disabilities Education program. It also compels the NSF to conduct research into dyslexia. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), was approved by the House on October 26 of last year and passed by the Senate three weeks ago.

International Disability Rights

On February 10, President Obama formally recommended that the Senate ratify the Marrakesh VIP Treaty, an international agreement that allows individuals who are visually impaired or print disabled to make books accessible to them without having to secure the permission of copyright holders. The treaty also permits them to share accessible books across international borders even if copyright holders of a text differ in multiple countries. By easing these copyright restrictions, the Marrakesh Treaty would make it much easier and less expensive to expand reading resources in Braille. The Marrakesh Treaty has currently been signed by 79 countries, but only fourteen have also ratified it so far. Ratification is necessary for the treaty to become binding.

Two more countries have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) so far this year, namely Sri Lanka and the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which brings the total number of ratifying parties to 162. The United States is now one of only three countries in the Western Hemisphere that have not ratified the CRPD. The other two are Suriname and Saint Lucia.

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)

Continue to visit HCBSAdvocacy.org for up-to-date information on what is happening in your state. There are currently a number of state plans open for public comment.  For any inquiries, please contact Christine Grosso.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

This week Liz Weintraub, AUCD's advocacy specialist and host of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, interviews Aaron Bishop (commissioner of AIDD) and Ken Capone (a member of PCPID and the Public Policy Director of People On the Go of MD) on the 2015 report to the President of the US. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Marcie Roth, Director of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about how individuals with disabilities can use toolkits to protect themselves in the event of a major disaster. 


For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For updates from our Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD.

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 


AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910