Disability Policy News In Brief

June 6, 2016

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June 06, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 75
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Congressional Schedule

The Senate returns from the congressional Memorial Day recess today and will begin working on its defense reauthorization bill.  The Senate Appropriations subcommittee is scheduled to markup its Labor-HHS-Education funding bill.  The Senate Budget Committee may consider bills to reform the budget process.  The House returns tomorrow and is expected to consider the Legislative Branch funding bill as well as a bill to assist Puerto Rico with its budget crisis.  On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on ways to improve and sustain Medicare; the Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on the Administration's overtime Rule; the House Budget will hold a hearing on the need to control automatic spending and unauthorized programs.  AUCD staff is monitoring these markups and hearings.


The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations panel is scheduled to mark up its fiscal 2017 bill Tuesday, with the full committee to take it up Thursday.  The Committee has an allocation of $161.9 billion, a slight increase over last year's total spending amount. There is a strong push from advocates and some Members of Congress to increase NIH funding for provisions of the 21st Century CURES Act (HR 6), a bill that would pump an additional $1.75 billion in each fiscal year between 2016 and 2020 to spur biomedical research.  However, with the tight allocation, it is unclear how this increase would be paid for.  The L-HHS-ED bill, the largest of all 12 funding bills, is also frequently the target of other controversial amendments (or policy riders) that make it difficult to pass.  Regardless of the progress the Senate might make on the bill this week, the House has not yet taken any action on this bill and there are very few legislative days left before Congress recesses for national conventions and August recess, making a continuing resolution very likely. AUCD will be following its progression closely and advocating for the strongest possible funding for programs that assist people with disabilities and families.

Health Care/Prevention

Last week, the House passed a new version of the Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (HR 2576). This bill would regulate chemicals so they no longer present unreasonable risks of injury to health or the environment. In recent years, many chemicals commonly used in every day products have been linked to increased risks for learning and developmental disabilities as well as cancer, infertility, and obesity. If the Senate passes the bill (S 697), it will be the first major environmental legislation to pass Congress since the mid-1990s. While the legislation contains reforms that should enable the Environmental Protection Agency to tackle the most dangerous chemicals, it falls short of what public health advocates have sought. The Senate bill has 60 cosponsors while the House bill has 16. Learn more here.




AUCD signed onto a letter to Secretary of Education John King and Attorney General Loretta Lynch expressing support for the joint guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice on the responsibility of schools, districts and states to protect transgender and gender non-conforming students from discrimination. The letter, which was developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, praises the guidance's clarification of the rights of transgender students. The new guidance clarifies protections granted to transgender students under Title IX and affirms their right to equal access to amenities that are consistent with their gender identity, as well as full participation in activities and organizations alongside their peers.  The guidance will help school leaders create a safer, more inclusive learning environment for transgender students.


On May 26, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement key provisions of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This proposed regulation pertains to school accountability, data reporting, and consolidated state plans. AUCD, along with several other advocacy organizations, are reviewing the proposed rule to consider whether it aligns with goals of making data accessible to families, ensuring students with disabilities are included in all school accountability systems, and resulting in effective interventions for children with disabilities if they are in a consistently underperforming subgroup. Comments to the Department of Ed. are due on July 31. For more information, see fact sheet, chart, and a press release produced by the Department.


AUCD is excited to announce that on June 1, 2016 the State of Ohio launched its "STABLE Account" program making Ohio the first state in the country to offer ABLE accounts to qualified individuals with disabilities. Moreover, the "STABLE Account" program is a national program, offering enrollment to individuals with disabilities both in Ohio and across the country. The Ohio program allows individuals to save up to $14,000 per year for qualifying expenses.  These savings will not jeopardize an individual's eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid, or any other means-tested program.  Nebraska, Florida, Utah and Tennessee are other states that are close to launched ABLE accounts.  See more information on Ohio's program.  For more information about the ABLE Act implementation efforts, see the ABLE National Resource Center.

HCBS Toolkit Updated

The HCBS Settings Rule 3-Part Toolkit has been updated to reflect the new guidance by CMS addressing Planned Construction of Presumed Institutional Settings:

1.       What You Should Know

2.       Settings Presumed to be Institution & the Heightened Scrutiny Process

3.       How to Advocate for Truly Integrated Community Settings (Full Version)

a.       How to Advocate for Truly Integrated Community Settings (Abridged Version)


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz Weintraub and AUCD Policy Analyst Christine Grosso will give a tutorial of the HCBS Advocacy site. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Lydia Brown who spoke about the Women with Autism Project and the Anthology.

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