2007 Legislative Affairs Report to the Board

November 6, 2007


1st Session of 110th Congress

Prepared by Legislative Affairs Staff of the

Association of University Centers on Disabilities


Following is a report on some of the major legislative issues for which AUCD staff spent considerable effort in the first session of the 110th Congress.

FY08 Budget and Appropriations

At the time of this writing, the House and Senate were scheduled to vote on a conference report for the FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (H.R. 3043). The conference agreement contains increases for all of the AUCD network programs. However, the President continues to threaten to veto the bill refusing to accept any spending above the overall amount in his budget proposal that was released in January. The President's budget request would level fund or cut programs important to people with disabilities and their families.

Below is a table comparing the current spending proposals by the President, House and Senate passed bills and the pending conference committee report for some of the key programs being monitored by AUCD.



FY 07 Final

President's Budget











DD Councils












PNS/Family Support






Family Support Clearinghouse






MCH Block Grant






Autism and related DD






CDC Center on Birth Defects/DD


















Lifespan Respite Care Act

New law





The conference report provides $37.6 million, a $4.4 million increase for the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). This is $1 million less than the Senate bill but $4.4 million more than the House.

The conference report provides the full $37 million for autism and developmental disabilities to implement programs authorized by the Combating Autism Act within HRSA and separates the autism funding from SPRANS as recommended by the Senate. The committee report specifies that the conferees "intend that no less than $6 million be used to continue and expand the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program. In addition, no less than $6 million is provided for research on evidence-based practices for interventions for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, for development of guidelines for those interventions, and for information dissemination." The House bill provides $30 million for these activities and keeps the autism funding within the SPRANS set aside.

The conference report provides $683 million for the overall Title V Maternal & Child Health Services Block Grant, which appears to be a cut from the FY 07 level except that approximately $20 million in base funding is pulled from the block grant and put into a separate autism line item described above. Therefore, there is an approximately $10 million net increase for the block grant once the base funding for the autism activities is taken into consideration.

The conference agreement includes $30 billion for NIH in FY 2008. This is an increase of $1.1 billion (3.8 percent) over the FY 2007 level. The conferees added an additional $100 million beyond what the Senate had proposed. The Senate bill had proposed $29.9 billion, while the House bill proposed $29.65 billion. The conference report provides a $31.7 million increase over the current FY 07 funding level for NICHD through which most of the DDRCs receive base funding. This is just slightly higher than the Senate bill and $12.6 million more than the House proposal. The National Children's Study would get the full requested $110.9 million to continue its work.

The CDC National Center on Birth Defects and DD also receives a boost in funding by the conference committee to $131.1 million. This amount is slightly lower than the House bill but $2.9 million more than the Senate bill and $6.6 more than the FY 07 level.

If the President vetoes the L-H bill as expected, Congress will have to re-craft the bill cutting discretionary programs back to a level acceptable to the President resulting in level funding and cuts to many research, health and social services programs. Another option under consideration is a year-long continuing resolution that would provide level-funding to all programs under its jurisdiction, as happened last year. As this report was being published, there did not appear to be enough support to override a presidential veto.

AUCD is actively working with a large coalition of stakeholders led by the Coalition of Health Funding and the Coalition on Education Funding to garner support for L-HHS-ED bill, including possible efforts to override a presidential veto. AUCD recently contributed funds to provide a week-long ad in the Congressional Quarterly urging member of Congress to support the L-HHS-ED appropriations bill as it moves forward.

Lifespan Respite Funding

AUCD strongly advocated for full funding of the Lifespan Respite Care Act in the FY 08 L-HHS-ED Appropriations bills. The law authorizes $40 million for FY 08 for the competitive grant program. Unfortunately, neither the original House nor the Senate L-HHS-ED appropriations bills provided funds for the new law. During full House consideration, an amendment by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) to provide $10 million to fund the program was successful. The funds would be provided at the discretion of the Dept. of HHS to use administrative funds. Sens. Clinton (D-NY) and Warner (R-VA) were recently unsuccessful in an attempt to offer a similar amendment in the Senate. However, during the Senate consideration of the bill, Senators Warner, Clinton, Harkin and Specter committed to working for Lifespan Respite funding during conference negotiations with the House bill. The conference report did provide $2 million to begin implementing this program.

National Family Caregiver Support Program

During the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act last year, AUCD and other disability organizations worked to obtain new language to expand the National Family Caregiver Support Program to include aging caregivers of adults with disabilities. While it was the intent of Congress to cover this population, the Administration on Aging indicated in early spring there was a technical issue with the new language. While the definition of "child" was expanded to include individuals with disabilities, the definition of "grandparent or older relative caregiver" still excludes the majority of aging caregivers of adults with developmental and other disabilities. With the assistance of Mary Beth Bruder of the Connecticut UCEDD, AUCD staff met with staff of Representative DeLauro (D-CT). She agreed to include report language drafted by AUCD in the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. Tamar Heller of the University of Illinois UCEDD and AUCD staff are currently asking conferees to include this report language in the final conference bill that is set to the President. While report language is non-binding, it would send a clear message to the Administration on Aging of the intent of Congress. In addition, AUCD staff is working with Senator Mikulski (D-MD) in an effort to find a legislative fix for this issue.

Autism Legislation

On March 20, 2007 Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Wayne Allard (R-CO) introduced the bipartisan Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act of 2007 (S. 937). It now has 10 co-sponsors. A companion bill (H.R. 1881) was introduced in the House on April 17 by Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ). H.R. 1881 now has 75 co-sponsors. The bill amends the Public Health Services Act providing additional funds to improve access to comprehensive treatments, interventions, and services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families. AUCD worked with Senate staff to draft language targeting UCEDDs. Section 399LL of the bill authorizes $13.4 million to award supplemental grants to the UCEDDs ($200,000 for each of the 67 Centers) to provide training, technical assistance, dissemination, and services to individuals with autism. In addition, the bill authorizes $5 million to establish up to four new UCEDDs with a primary focus on providing interdisciplinary training and services for individuals with autism and related developmental disabilities. The bill also includes demonstration grants designed to encourage development of services, supports and technical assistance for which AUCD network members would be eligible.

AUCD has been working with Easter Seals, Autism Society of American, Autism Speaks and other advocates to educate members of Congress about the need for legislation to increase services and supports, including interdisciplinary training of professionals in the area of autism. AUCD sent letters of support to sponsors, presented at a Senate press conference, drafted a "dear colleague" letter for Senate staff, and visited staff of key committees regarding the bill. Additional co-sponsors are needed to create momentum and get the busy House Energy and Commerce and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Chairmen to take action on the bill.

On June 7, 2007 Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) introduced the Empowering Children with Autism through Education Act of 2007. The bill establishes a task force whose purpose is to identify evidence-based educational strategies and promising practices in educational interventions for students with autism. AUCD provided input to strengthen the bill language and add a technical assistance component. Rep. Yarmuth hopes to insert the bill language into the base bill to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.

AUCD continues to advocate for appropriations to implement the Combating Autism Act, which includes increased funding for Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs to expand their work training professionals to work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders and related developmental disabilities (see Appropriations above).

Medicaid/ SCHIP

The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was enacted with bi-partisan support a decade ago as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Together with Medicaid, SCHIP has helped to reduce the number of uninsured children by about one-third. However, nearly 9 million children remain uninsured. As Congress has considered reauthorization of SCHIP, the debate has been about how far to expand coverage and how to provide funding for the program.

In August, the House and Senate both passed bills to reauthorize the program. The Senate bill (S.1893) proposed to cover an additional 6.1 million children. The bill proposed to allow states to cover children up to 300% of the federal poverty level and gradually limit coverage for adults. The proposal provided an additional $35 billion over the baseline over 5 years, financed through a $0.61 per pack cigarette tax. The House passed a broader proposal. The Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act (H.R. 3162) proposed to cover an additional 7.5 million children. It would have provided an additional $47 billion in new spending, financed through a $0.45 per pack cigarette tax and reductions in overpayments to Medicare Advantage (manage care) plans. The bill would have also provided several important amendments to Medicare and Medicaid that the disability community had been seeking, including a 12-month moratorium on the regulations limiting the use of Medicaid for school-based services and another Rule limiting the use the Medicaid Rehabilitation Option.

A bi-partisan compromise was reached on a bill closer to that proposed by the Senate to provide $35 billion in new spending (H.R. 976). AUCD sent out numerous action alerts to gain support for the bill. In late September the compromised bill passed the Senate on a vote of 67-29 and the House by a vote of 265-169. However, as he had threatened since July, President Bush vetoed the bill the following week. Approximately two weeks later Congress attempted to override the veto. However, the House vote again fell shy of the required two-thirds majority despite considerable grass roots pressure.

On October 25, the House proposed a new children's health bill with minor changes (H.R. 3963). Most of the changes were clarifications that reduced the possibility that illegal immigrants or adults could enroll in the program and that families would move from private insurance coverage to SCHIP. One very positive change is that the new bill extends the effective date of the moratorium on Medicaid school-based care and rehabilitation option services from May 24, 2008 to January 1, 2010, on regulations that would deny access to these services. However, the vote in the House again fell short of a two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a threatened second Presidential veto. No new support from Republican House members was gained. The 43 Republican supporters were in the same group that voted for an earlier version of the bill and voted to override Bush's veto of that bill. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 64-30.

The margin in the House is still about 12 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a threatened second veto by President Bush. Rather than send this directly to the President, bill sponsors and Democratic leadership are engaged in negotiations with Republican members opposed to the bill in attempts to make minor changes to pick up needed votes. House and Senate leaders say if negotiators can reach agreement on changes to the bill that would allow another 20 to 30 Republicans to vote for it, they will schedule floor time for it. If an SCHIP deal cannot be reached, Finance Chairman Baucus (D-MT) said that a continuing resolution will be necessary to keep state health programs afloat. In crafting the CR, lawmakers will have to consider adding to the program's current funding level. If no new money is put into the program, some states will run out of funds by March, according to the Congressional Research Service. States are currently accessing FY08 SCHIP funds through a CR that expires Nov. 16. House Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Blunt (R-MO) remain opposed to the bill and some analysts question whether enough Republicans would "break from leadership" to vote for a bill.


Senator Kennedy (D-MA) reintroduced the Community Living Services and Support (CLASS) Act on July 10, 2008 (S.1758) at a hearing on community-base services that was attended by over 300 individuals. A companion bill (H.R. 3001) was also introduced in the House by Representatives Dingell (D-MI) and Pallone (D-NJ) on the same day. The CLASS Act would create a new national long term care insurance program to help adults who have or develop functional impairments to remain independent, employed, and stay a part of their community. Financed through voluntary payroll deductions of $30.00 per month (with opt-out enrollment like Medicare Part B), this legislation will help remove barriers to independence and choice (e.g., housing modification, assistive technologies, personal assistance services, transportation) that can be overwhelmingly costly, by providing a cash benefit to those individuals who are unable to perform 2 or more functional activities of daily living. The large risk pool to be created by this program approach will make added coverage much more affordable than it is currently, thereby reducing the incentives for people with severe impairments to "spend down" to Medicaid. It will give individuals added choice and access to supports without requiring them to become impoverished to qualify.

AUCD staff worked within a large coalition of aging and disability groups to gain support for the bill. In the 109th Congress, Senator DeWine (R-OH) was the lead Republican co-sponsor on the bill, but was not re-elected. AUCD and members of the coalition have met with over a dozen Republicans in the House and Senate in efforts to keep the bill bi-partisan, but have yet to secure appropriate lead Republican co-sponsors in the House and Senate.

Community Choice Act

AUCD worked with staff to update the language and find bipartisan co-sponsors to reintroduce MiCASSA in the first session of this Congress. Senators Harkin (D-IA) and Specter (R-PA) introduced the bill with a new name, the Community Choice Act (S. 799). Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced a companion version in the House (H.R. 1621). The Community Choice Act would help correct the institutional bias in Medicaid by requiring states to provide community-based personal attendant services and supports. In September, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), held a hearing on the bill entitled Home and Community Based Care: Expanding Options for Long Term Care. There are 19 cosponsors of the Senate bill and 41 cosponsors of the House bill.

Higher Education Act

On July 24, 2007 the Senate passed 95-0 a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the Higher Education Amendments of 2007 (S.1642). On September 27, Congress passed and the President signed into law a separate bill, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669), which primarily reduced subsidies to lenders and increased Pell grants to low-income students. The bill also created a new Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant program for students who commit to teaching in underserved areas (which includes special education) and a new loan forgiveness program for certain "public employees." There was initial discussion about combining the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act with the College Cost Reduction Act. However, ultimately these two bills moved separately. To date, no bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Education and Labor Committee Chairman Miller (D-CA) is currently working on a draft bill to be introduced before the end of the first session of the 110th Congress.

AUCD worked with the National Down Syndrome Society and other CCD organizations to secure several provisions in the Senate bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (S. 1642) for students with disabilities. AUCD met with HELP committee staff and garnered grassroots support through action alerts. The most exciting changes to the bill are within Title VII. First, demonstration projects for students with disabilities are reauthorized and expanded in Title VII (Graduate and Postsecondary Improvement Programs). These projects received approximately $7 million in FY07. However, the President proposed to eliminate funding for this program in the past several years. Second, a new "comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities" program is authorized. The Secretary of Education is directed to award at least 10 grants per year - each for 5 years - to institutions of higher education to develop these model programs. The programs will focus on integrated work experiences leading to gainful employment, independent living skills, socialization and academic enrichment. Programs are required to work in partnership with other relevant agencies, such as vocational rehabilitation, integrate students with disabilities into student housing or involve other students at the college who are studying special education, general education, vocational rehabilitation or assistive technology. A coordinating center for technical assistance, evaluation and development of accreditation standards is to be created to facilitate collaboration and evaluation between model programs and to develop accreditation standards for programs in higher education for students with intellectual disabilities. Students with intellectual disabilities who enroll in a comprehensive transition and postsecondary program for students with intellectual disabilities will be eligible, for the first time, for student federal financial assistance - Pell grants, work study grants and campus based grants.

AUCD is currently working with House Education and Labor Committee staff to secure the disability provision contained in the Senate bill and to discuss additional provisions for students with disabilities, which may include a national technical assistance center and GAO study.

No Child Left Behind Act

Chairman Miller (D-CA) of the House Education and Labor Committee and Chairman Kennedy (D-MA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee both indicate plans to move bills this year to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act. However, committees are having a difficult time reaching agreement within parties let alone across party lines. Agreement will likely become even more difficult moving in to an election year.

Earlier this year, AUCD provided recommendations for reauthorization to the Committees through the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force. At the heart of the CCD recommendations is ensuring students with disabilities are included in the NCLB accountability system. Even though NCLB makes it clear that students with disabilities should be included in assessments for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), implementation of this provision has been difficult. The Department of Education has issued two regulations. The "1% Rule" applies to students with significant cognitive disabilities who can be assessed through alternative assessment standards set by the states. This regulation actually affects up to ten percent of students with disabilities (1% of all students). Congress is contemplating adding the essence of this rule to the new NCLB reauthorization. The second regulation, known as the "2% Rule," is very controversial. This regulation would allow up to twenty percent of students with disabilities to be tested using modified academic achievement standards. This rule is controversial because there is no scientific basis for the percentage, there are few known valid assessment instruments that states can use, and the special education community believes the number of students targeted under this rule is too large. Regulations on this rule were just released this year. CCD responded to these regulations and there is concern about them being codified into law.

In August, the House Education and Labor Committee released a discussion draft of a bill to reauthorize NCLB. In September, Katy Neas, Director of Congressional Affairs for Easter Seals, testified before the House Education panel on behalf of the CCD. CCD also submitted written comments on the draft. There are many positive directions in the draft - such as universal design for learning and school-wide positive behavioral supports. However, CCD remains concerned about codifying the 2% rule and a waiver that would allow expansion to 3%. This could lead to the exclusion of up to 40 percent of students with disabilities, some 2.4 million students, from the grade-level academic standards. Another serious concern are proposals to further exclude students with disabilities and for using the IEP as an accountability measure.

The Senate HELP committee also recently released portions of its draft bill; however, none directly concerning students with disabilities. Politically, the disability community has been one of the strongest supporters of NCLB.

Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act

House and Senate bills to restore the intent of the ADA ("Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration Act", HR 3195/S. 1881) were introduced on July 26, the 17th anniversary of the law. The ADA Restoration Act of 2007 restores the original intent of the ADA by: amending the definition of "disability"; preventing the courts from considering "mitigating measures" when deciding whether an individual qualifies for protection under the law; keeping the focus in employment cases on the reason for the adverse action. AUCD and other advocates have been meeting with Members of Congress, especially focusing on the House, to educate them about why this action is needed and to garner enough support to move the bill. The House bill has strong momentum with 236 bipartisan co-sponsors. The bill must be considered by four House committees and two Senate committees. The House Judiciary Committee held one hearing on the issue and may markup in mid-November. With little time remaining in this session of Congress, advocates are focusing on urging the House Education Committee to hold a hearing in the beginning of the year and to begin pushing for Senate cosponsors. A Senate HELP Committee hearing is scheduled for November 15. Advocates are hoping this hearing will generate bipartisan co-sponsors.

The goal is to get a clean bill through the House and assume that the Senate will need some tinkering time.

DD Act Reauthorization

The Legislative Affairs Committee is close to finalizing a set of recommended changes to the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) that is scheduled to be reauthorized during the 110th Congress. The recommendations were originally developed by a workgroup of the committee led by Tom Uno of Arizona and included volunteers from the whole network. The committee plans to present the recommendations to the Board of Directors during the Winter meeting.

Lead majority and minority staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee expect to take the lead on drafting a bill in the Spring of 2008. AUCD staff is also taking a lead role in the national disability community by co-chairing the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities DD Task Force. DD Task Force co-chairs are preparing a special briefing for the HELP Committee early in the year.

Rehab Act Reauthorization

House and Senate bills to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which includes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Title IV), continue to be stalled. However, Senate HELP Committee staff are working on a revised draft bill to reauthorize the Rehab Act and are prepared to move the bill forward separately if WIA continues to be stalled. The new draft bill is based on the bill (S. 1021) that passed the full Senate in the last Congress with several amendments to continue to strengthen youth transition and supported employment services. AUCD staff participated in developing comments on the bill of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Employment Task Force. AUCD also met with Senate staff, along with Legislative Affairs Committee and Board member, Bill Kiernan. AUCD will continue to monitor movement of the WIA bills and advocate for provisions that improve services to people with disabilities.

Dental Services

After the highly publicized cases of young children from low-income families in Maryland and Mississippi dying from untreated dental diseases, a chorus of voices in Washington have called for legislative attention on the crises in children's dental access in America. Lack of access due to reimbursements is compounded for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities by lack of training of professionals. After a House Committee on Energy and Commerce-Subcommittee on Health hearing in March, Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) introduced the Children's Dental Health Improvement Act to address issues of dental care provision in SCHIP and Medicaid and to improve community dental services and training through grants. This bill specifically addresses children with MR/DD diagnoses in community dental services programs and ongoing CDC surveillance. A few months later, Congressman Albert Wynn (D-MD) introduced the Essential Oral Health Care Act for the provision of tax credits to dentists for low-income patient service incentives and for the funding of Community Dental Health Coordinator training and programming. Finally, in the Senate version of the SCHIP reauthorization carried forward though conference and later vetoed by President Bush, $200 Million would be provided for grants to states to improve dental care access through reimbursement rates and approved services expansions. At this time, this provision is uncertain, along with the rest of SCHIP.

International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations adopted the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD) and opened the treaty for signature on March 30, 2007. The CRPD is a vital new instrument for the advancement of rights and opportunities for the more than 600 million people with disabilities globally and is the first United Nations human rights treaty ever to comprehensively address the rights of persons with disabilities. Though the U.S. delegation to the U.N. reportedly contributed some expertise during the convention's six year journey to UN adoption, the Bush Administration has clearly indicated that it would not sign the treaty. This is unfortunately a departure from the United States' historic role as an international leader in the field of disability, wherein our own Americans with Disabilities Act was an influential document on the crafting of the CRPD. In October 2007, AUCD signed onto a letter prepared by the CCD International Task Force, addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urging that the US become a signatory nation to the CRPD. The Task Force is also planning a Washington briefing to educate its members and the media about the UN Convention on December 3 for early 2008 and the event is planned to be webcast. AUCD will make Network Centers aware of this opportunity to view the webcast as details are confirmed.

Crime Victims with Disabilities

With the help of the Abuse and Neglect SIG, AUCD provided input into a bill in development under the leadership of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Chair of the Judiciary Committee. The bill, the Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act to be introduced as part of a larger criminal justice bill, is intended to increase the awareness, investigation, prosecution, and prevention of crimes against individuals with disabilities, including developmental disabilities, and improve services to those who are victimized. Significantly, the bill also mandates the Attorney General to update the study required by section 4 of the Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act (P.L. 105-301) that was enacted in 1998. AUCD also advocated for a new research section that would assist the AG to collect valid, reliable national data relating to crimes against individuals with developmental and related disabilities for the National Crime Victim's Survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Department of Justice as required by the Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act.

The Senate recently passed and AUCD supported the Mathew Sheppard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 1105) as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill. The bill would add disability to the list of protected classes under the federal hate crimes statute and provide additional funds to state to prosecute hate crimes. Supporters consider it an uphill battle, however, to keep the provision when the Defense bill is combined with the House version that does not contain the hate crimes provision.

In May, AUCD collaborated with the National Center on Victims with Crimes and the National Council on Disability on a joint statement and online Town Hall Meeting announcing a partnership to raise public awareness about crime victims with disabilities. The goals of the partnership include public policy changes that integrate crime victims with disabilities and their needs into the current framework of federal, state, and local services. Beverly Franz of the PA UCEDD presented at the Town Hall meeting on behalf of AUCD.

Emergency Preparedness/Response and People with Disabilities

In June, FEMA announced that Cindy Lou Daniel was selected to fill the position of FEMA Disability Coordinator, the first appointment to this position newly created last year in the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 that was supported by AUCD. Though Ms. Daniel has extensive experience in both emergency preparedness issues in general and within a disabilities context specifically, including experience with the National Organization on Disabilities, there remains concern among advocates that the job needed to truly bring systems change in the inclusion in of a disabilities perspective to all levels of government and in all phases of emergency management is a larger task than one token staff person will be able to implement without strong resource support from the FEMA leadership. The CCD Emergency Relief and Disaster Preparedness Task Force continues to advocate in this area and is in regular contact with Ms. Daniel, FEMA, the National Council on Disability, and Red Cross of America concerning these issues. AUCD Policy Fellow David Morrissey has been participating on the task force throughout his tenure and was recently made task force co-chair. The Task Force was also recently invited to provide input into the drafting of the Safeguarding our Seniors Act of 2007, a bill addressing preparedness and response mechanisms pertaining to seniors and persons with disabilities currently under development at the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

New Hampshire Disability Presidential Candidate Forum

AUCD co-sponsored (along with 22 other national sponsors) and was instrumental in planning a presidential candidate forum on disability issues entitled the "National Forum on Equality, Opportunity, and Access." The forum was attended by approximately 600 New Hampshire voters. It was broadcasted locally on public television and webcasted nationally. Several University Centers participated in gatherings across the country to view the event. All Democratic and Republican presidential candidates were invited to participate. Senators Clinton (D-NY), Biden (D-DE), Dodd (D-CT), former Senator Gravel (D-AK), and Representative Kucinich (D-OH) attended the event in person. Former Congressman David Bonior represented Senator Edwards (D-NC) and Senator McCain (R-AZ) participated by phone. The event picked up local and national media attention. More information about the event, including photos and links to news articles and videos visit, is at the following link: http://www.jfactivist.org/. A transcript and archived webcast of the event will be made available in the near future.