Disability Policy News In Brief

December 10, 2018

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December 10, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 190
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President George H. W. Bush

The death of President George H. W. Bush this past week provided an opportunity to reflect on his legacy, including his complicated civil rights and disability record. The coverage of his role in the passage of the ADA is an opportunity to educate about both its history and its continued value.

Action Step:

Learn more and share with current and newly elected members of your congressional delegation how important the ADA is.

  • Joe Shapiro's NPR story includes first-person perspective on the impact of advocates on President Bush, an excellent lesson on how your individual efforts lay the groundwork for substantive policy.
  • LEND alumna Kiersi Coleman's perspective on the lived experience impact of the ADA ties policy to real lives.

The logistics of the state funeral together with the National Day of Mourning greatly curtailed activities in Congress last week. The December 7 deadline to resolve the remaining 25% of the federal budget was addressed with a two-week extension called a Continuing Resolution, making the new deadline Friday, December 21. The President continues to push for at least $5 billion for border security.

Administrative Changes

In the past week, President Trump announced the he would nominate William Barr to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Barr previously served in that role under President George H.W. Bush. Also announced, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert will be nominated to replace Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations. Both will face Senate confirmation hearings in the coming weeks. The president also announced that Chief of Staff John Kelly would be leaving that position by year's end.


Public Charge Rule

Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for submitting comments on the proposed changes to the public charge rule. 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:


Lame Duck

The House and Senate are in the last weeks of the 115th Congress. New bills of importance to the disability community continue to be introduced in the last days of this session. It is not expected that these bills will pass and become law this year. 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 Keep Our PACT Act was introduced by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on December 4. The bill would create a 10-year mandatory glide path to fully fund both Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and ensures education is a priority in the federal budget.
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 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 health care 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. While negotiators have announced that an agreement in principle has been reached, the reduced schedule last week prevented votes. 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.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Daniel Crimmins, Director of the Georgia UCEDD and LEND Program, chats with Liz about the AUCD Leadership Academy. They discuss what makes a leader, what to expect at the AUCD Leadership Academy, and who should apply (hint: you!).


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

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