Disability Policy News In Brief

December 3, 2018

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December 3, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 189
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Lame Duck

The House and Senate are in the last weeks of the 115th Congress. Several new bills of importance to the disability community have been introduced in the last days of this session. It is not expected that these bills will pass and become law this year but their introduction is an important look at priorities for the 116th Congress and a chance to build momentum around critical issues.

Action Steps:

  • Consider each of the following pieces of legislation. Share your expertise, personal experience, research or clinical work that ties to the issue with your members of Congress, including any incoming members:

The Guardianship Accountability Act was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) on November 28 in response to a report by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, Ensuring Trust: Strengthening State Efforts to Overhaul the Guardianship Process and Protect Older Americans. This bill would:

  • Create a National Online Resource Center on Guardianship that would issue training materials for guardians, information on model legislation, and other useful resources for guardians, individuals under guardianship, courts, community organizations, and state and local officials;
  • Oversee a database on state guardianship laws and the use of less restrictive alternatives; 
  • Expand the availability of federal demonstration grants within the Elder Justice Act that could be used to promote guardian background checks, train court visitors, and develop state guardianship databases.

Senator Casey also introduced the Readiness for Elders and Americans with Disabilities Inclusion (READI) for Disasters Act on November 29. The READI for Disasters Act would establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters to study the needs of individuals with disabilities, older adults and others with access and functional needs throughout emergency preparation and planning, disaster response, recovery and mitigation. Additionally, it would provide financial support to develop and provide technical assistance and training to state and local emergency managers as well as disaster relief agencies. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have co-sponsored the bill.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act was introduced by Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-8) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) on November 14. The legislation would:

  • Make it illegal for any school receiving taxpayer dollars to seclude children;
  • Limit the use of physical restraint to instances when it is necessary for the safety of students and teachers; 
  • Establish minimum safety standards in schools;
  • Require states to monitor the law's implementation;
  • Increase transparency and oversight to prevent future abuse of students.

The Health Equity and Accountability Act was introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). This legislation is a counterpart to H.R. 5942, which was introduced into the House in May. Both bills seek to narrow healthcare disparities and improve the well-being of minority individuals. 


Farm Bill

AUCD and our members have been following the negotiations around the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 reauthorization. Negotiators announced on Thursday that an agreement in principle has been reached. Reports indicate that the proposed work requirements for the SNAP programs are not in the final version. It is anticipated that the final bill will be voted on by the Senate this week and the House before the end of the year.


Shutdown Watch

Congress faces a December 7 deadline to resolve the remaining 25 percent of the federal budget. Failure to do so could create a partial government shutdown. The President has publicly stated that any budget he will sign must include at least 5 billion dollars for border security.


Public Charge Rule

State health officials are increasingly alarmed that thousands of legal immigrants are forgoing Medicaid and Obamacare coverage because of a looming rule that many believe will jeopardize their chances of citizenship. The proposed changes to the public charge rule have been published in the Federal Register. The comment period ends December 10, 2018. Our friends at Rooted in Rights have created video resources that illustrate how the change would impact families that include people with disabilities. Making comments is a critical way to impact policy.

Action Steps:


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Liz sits down with Brittany Curry, a.k.a. Inky Brittany, a graphic recorder and facilitator. Brittany answers all of Liz's questions about how graphic facilitation can be beneficial for people with disabilities, is accessible to all regardless of ability, and is something anyone can pursue.

Check out Inky Brittany's work at https://www.inkybrittany.com.


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

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