AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 1, 2009

Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate return from a weeklong recess this week.  Democratic leaders hope to complete work this week on a supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other military and domestic priorities. Appropriations Committees are also expected to begin marking up appropriations bill soon. House and Senate Committees are gearing up this week to introduce and quickly move health care reform bills.  Both the Senate and House have set ambitious goals of passage by the August recess.    The Senate will also prepare for confirmation hearings now expected in mid-July for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor

Health Care Reform

Over the weekend Chairman Kennedy (D-MA) and Chairman Baucus (D-MT) released a joint press statement reaffirming their commitment to work together on health care reform.  The Senate HELP Committee is expected to hold private member and staff meetings this week and next, with mark up of legislation between June 16-25.  There will be difference between the two bills based on jurisdiction and approaches that will need to be worked out.  Differences may occur on establishing a public plan option and expansion of public programs.  Agreement will also be needed on how to finance health care reform.  Meanwhile, a timetable is circulating for possible action in the House.  Hearings are likely in June and early July with mark up of joint legislation by the three in three committees (Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor) July 13 and floor consideration the end of July. 

Long-Term Services and Supports

Disability and aging organizations are organizing a third national call-in day will take place this Thursday, June 4.  Last month over 10,000 calls were made to Senate offices.  Staff, trainees and students, individuals with disabilities, and family members across the AUCD networked helped make the call-in day a success.  While it is important to continue pressure on the Senate, the primary target of the call-in day this week is the House.  It is particularly important to reach members of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees.  An Action Alert with the call-in information will be sent to the network and posted on the AUCD website.      

Positive Behavior Supports

Rep. Phil Hare introduced the Positive Behavior for Safe and Effective Schools Act of 2009 (H.R. 2597). The bill makes modest amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to foster the use of school wide positive behavior supports (SWPBS) in schools across the country. It also supports training of teachers, provides for technical assistance, research and related school reform activities that help improve the overall school environment. Additionally, the legislation would establish a new office within the Department of Education that would help coordinate and administer activities assisting specialized instructional support personnel who provide a critical role in the link between social and academic outcomes for students.  AUCD signed onto a coalition letter to Rep. Hare in support of the bill.  It is hoped that the issue of improper use of restraints and seclusion in schools brought to light in a recent hearing and through a GAO report, will provide the impetus to help move this bill quickly.

Mental Health in Schools

Rep. Napolitano (D-CA) introduced the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2009 (HR 2531) on May 20. This legislation would amend the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend projects relating to children and violence to provide access to school-based comprehensive mental health programs. There is no Senate version as of yet.  The bill was been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Child Abuse Prevention

Staff of Sen. Dodd (D-CT) released a discussion draft of a bill to reauthorize the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  The draft bill contains many of the recommendations of the AUCD.  For example, the Senate draft includes new provisions in Title I for research on effective collaborations between CPS and medical, mental health, developmental disabilities, early childhood and special education services as well as research on the impact of child abuse and negelect on disabilities.  The bill also authorizes training for personnel in best practices for needs of children with disabilities, children under age 3, for coordinateion with agencies providing early intervention services.   Title II strengthen prevention services for parents with disabilities and adds respite care to the list of core prevention services.   Other provisions supported by AUCD and the National Child Abuse Coalition include the intersection between child maltreatment and domestic violence, increased attention to differential response and family group decision-making, and identification of core services for prevention.  Staff of lead sponsors have also scheduled a time to meet with advocates to discuss the bill before introduction. 


AUCD Staff is working with a subgroup of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Taskforce on Employment and Training to develop principles for the reauthorization of Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  The main focus of the changes being sought by CCD is to increase access to and improve services for individuals with disabilities at one-stop career centers as well as to incorporate report language to increase the accountability of state agencies responsible for vocational rehabilitation and training.

Judicial Appointment

President Obama announced last week that federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor is his nominee to succeed Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.    Judge Sotomayor's favorable rulings in two prominent disability cases suggest that she understands disability issues.  If the Senate confirms her nomination she would become the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court.

Obama Administration/CMS

U. S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the appointment of Cindy Mann to serve as Director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations (CMSO), part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Mann most recently served as a research professor and executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute. Mann also previously served as director of the Family and Children's Health Programs at CMSO under the Clinton Administration, in that capacity she played a key role in implementing Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Lifespan Respite Care

Jill Kagan the Chair of the National Respite Coalition has been invited to testify before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on the respite care needs of caregivers of veterans on June 4.  Wrtitten testimony will be available on the committee website. As of May 28 the Administration on Aging had still not released the program announcement for grants to states to implement the Lifespan Respite Care Act due to "logistical" issues.  A release is expected very soon.