Legislative News Inbrief

November 6, 2006

Kim E. Musheno
Director of Public Policy
[email protected]

All eyes are on the mid-term elections that take place tomorrow, November 7. Many states and communities have tight political races between Republicans, Democrats and other political parties running for federal and statewide elected office. With the partisan majority up for grabs in both the House and Senate, the stakes are high. To find out how the candidates in your state and community stand on the issues, please visit AUCD's online guide to the elections and candidates. If you are experiencing problems casting your vote, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). Trained volunteers will provide immediate, state-specific assistance on issues such as disability rights and access, voter identification requirements, voting machine malfunctions, problems at the polling place and voter intimidation.

ADA Restoration
The ''Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration Act of 2006'', a bill to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act crafted by House Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner (R-WI), may move during the lame duck session when Congress returns on November 13. AUCD is participating in targeted education on the Hill as well as through mass media communications efforts to make sure that the original intent of the law are well understood. More news will follow as AUCD tracks this and other possible movement when Congress returns next week.

Social Security/FY 07 Appropriations
AUCD signed onto a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) letter to congressional budget leaders urging them to provide at least the President's budget request of $9.494 billion for the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Limitation on Administrative Expenses (LAE) and to remove the LAE from the discretionary budget caps. SSA's funding level of $9.093 billion, included in the Senate Committee's FY07 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill, is $401 million less than the President's request. This cut would exacerbate reductions in FY06 when SSA's budget was $294 million less than requested by the President for that year. If the $401 million cut for FY 2007 is passed, Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart has indicated that SSA will need to take a number of significant actions including cutting a significant amount of staff work hours and requiring ten days of SSA agency-wide furloughs.

Health Care
The Alliance for Health Care held a briefing on Oct. 11 entitled "Measuring Up: A Comprehensive Scorecard for America's Health System". A transcript of the briefing is available along with materials and the complete webcast.

The Alliance also recently published a 4-page issue brief that reviews the types of health disparities that minority populations face, some programs underway to reduce disparities, and proposals for future action. Also included is a list of expert sources with telephone numbers, and helpful websites. The brief is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The NCLB Commission of the Aspen Institute, a national think tank, is in the process of completing its work, drafting its report, and then issuing a final report regarding the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This report is expected in early 2007 and will include recommended statutory language for the reauthorized NCLB. The Institute website allows visitors to submit comments. See the "special education" category.

AUCD Legislative Goals Development
The Legislative Affairs Committee hosted its first Legislative Goals Town Hall meeting on Oct. 29 during AUCD's Annual Meeting and Conference. The forum was very well-attended. Participants provided suggestions for AUCD's legislative priorities for the 110th Congress. If you were unable to join us in person, please email your ideas to Kim Musheno ([email protected]) by Nov. 17. After ideas are collected, the Legislative Affairs Committee and Board of Directors will finalize the Association's legislative agenda before the start of the new Congress. For an update on AUCD's current legislative goals for the 109th Congress, please see the Legislative Affairs October 2006 report to the Board of Directors.

Gold Star Award
Aaron Bishop, staff to Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, received the Gold Star Award from AUCD during the Annual Meeting last week. The Legislative Affairs Committee nominated Bishop for the award for his outstanding work on federal disability related policy issues. Congratulations Aaron!