Disability Policy News In Brief

March 28, 2016

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March 28, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 65
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Fourteen members of Congress signed onto a congressional Dear Colleague letter supporting an increase in funding for Development Disabilities Act programs: UCEDDs, DD Councils, and P&As. The letter was circulated by Representative James Langevin (D-RI-2) and was co-signed by Representatives C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Charles B. Rangel (D-NY-13), Don Young (R-AK), Keith Ellison (D-MN-5), Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY-18), Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29), Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), John Lewis (D-GA-5), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11). Thank you to those of you who contacted Representatives urging them to support the network.  Please be sure to contact these members and thank them for their support.  A similar letter was circulated in the Senate by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), and was co-signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Bob Casey (D-PA).


Members of the House adjourned for spring recess, without passing a budget resolution. Democrats are not in favor of the proposed budget prepared by Republican leaders because of its cuts to entitlements, while other conservatives are not satisfied that the cuts are deep enough. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated "Even a budget that does this much damage to good-paying jobs, to seniors, and to the promise of basic economic security for every American does not go far enough for the House Republican Conference." Lawmakers will return from the recess on April 12, just days before the April 15 deadline to pass a budget. In the absence of a budget, lawmakers can pass a resolution to set enforceable spending levels.

Balanced Budget Amendment

Though the House and Senate have not finalized a budget resolution for this year, it is possible that they will once again try to take up the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the legislation last week where Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had all 54 Senate Republicans signed on to the BBA. Many top economists have come out against the BBA, which would institute global spending caps, limiting federal spending to 18% of Gross Domestic Product, and make it extremely difficult to raise revenues, exceed spending caps, or raise the debt limit. Under the proposed framework, it would require a 2/3 vote in Congress to address any of the aforementioned issues. AUCD has signed onto a letter in 2011 urging members of Congress to oppose any Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution because of the potential damage to the economy. AUCD will continue to oppose such an amendment if it comes up again.



Today, March 28, the co-chairs of the CCD Employment and Rights Task Forces sent a joint letter to the US Department of Labor addressing concerns in the implementation of the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions (Sec. 188) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Among several comments, the letter urges the Department to include examples of how some of the non-discrimination provisions apply in the context of WIOA Title I-funded entities; and also explains the need for additional critical elements that must be referenced within the proposed regulation in order to ensure the successful implementation of programmatic accessibility (as opposed to only physical accessibility). AUCD will be submitting a separate letter endorsing the comments proposed by CCD.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and Able to Work Act

On March 17, Rep. McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) joined Senators Burr (R-NC) and Casey (D-PA), and Representatives Crenshaw (R-FL), Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sessions (R-TX) (the six lead sponsors of the original ABLE Act) to introduce a package of bills aimed at enhancing the law. This package builds on the success of the ABLE Act by making it possible for employed people with disabilities to save a portion of their income in an ABLE account without risk of losing benefits. The three bills comprise of 1) the ABLE to Work Act (S. 2702, H.R. 4795) would expand on the goals of the ABLE Act by encouraging work and self-sufficiency. The legislation allows individuals and their families to save more money in an ABLE account if the beneficiary works and earns income; 2) The ABLE Financial Planning Act (S. 2703, H.R. 4794) would allow families to rollover savings from a 529 college savings plan into an ABLE account; and 3) the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 2704, H.R. 4813) would raise the age limit for ABLE accounts from 26 to 46. The three Senate bills have been referred to the Committee on Finance and the House companion bills have been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. AUCD will work with our CCD colleagues to secure passage of the ABLE improvement legislation.

The ABLE National Resource Center will be hosting a public webinar tomorrow, March 29 at 2pm, to hear how ABLE accounts might interact, and compare to, special needs trusts, pooled income trusts, and financial and benefits planning. Since the passage of the ABLE Act in 2014, 34 states have enacted ABLE programs and legislation is pending in several more states.  Register for the webinar here.

Ticket to Work

JBS International is seeking members of the public who have used Ticket to Work (TTW) to participant in a focus group meeting in order to help the Social Security Administration improve the services and supports of its TTW Program. The focus group will be held on Wednesday, April 13 in North Bethesda, Maryland. Please contact Eileen Elias if you or someone you know would like to participate (lunch and compensation provided). 


On March 22, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) held a hearing to consider the Department of Education's FY2017 budget request. Acting Secretary Dr. King was the witness for the Department. Questions focused on a variety of topics including CTE, IDEA, Pell, and block funding for other priorities in the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). At this hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) and Members of the Committee questioned Secretary King on the $69.4 billion in the Department's FY2017 discretionary budget request - a $1.3 billion, or 2% increase, above FY2016.

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, interviewed Steve Sabia about his experience as a Down syndrome self-advocate.  In case you missed last's week edition, Liz interviewed David Hoff, Program Director at the Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts-Boston, about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the state plans that are due in the beginning of April.

Disability Policy Seminar

Please join our March 29 webinar: Preparing for the Disability Policy Seminar, an opportunity to find out what to expect as a participant in the policy seminar and tips for setting up Hill visits.  April 13 is the date for which everyone should be scheduling their Hill visits (See  tips for scheduling Hill visits).  Fact sheets are now online to help you prepare for the visits. To coordinate with other participants from your state, see the list of attendees. Register online for the Policy Seminar.  Hope to see you there!

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

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