AUCD Legislative News In Brief

November 23, 2009


Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate are out until Nov. 30 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Health Care

On Saturday night the Senate managed to squeak out the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and pass a procedural motion to bring the health reform bill (HR 3590) to the floor for debate and amendment.  Majority leader Reid announced after the vote that the Senate would wait until after the Thanksgiving break to bring the bill to the floor.  Sen. Reid had released the 2,000 page bill on Thursday after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finished scoring the bill.  The $850 billion bill is a product of merging the two different Senate committee bills and making some compromises to get the 60 votes needed to move the bill forward. The bill retains the major insurance market reforms and long term services and support provisions important to the disability community.  For detailed information on the bill's provisions, see the short summaries and a longer section-by-section summary prepared by Senate Finance Committee staff.

Long Term Services and Supports

AUCD is happy to report that both the CLASS Act and the Community First Choice Option are included in the Senate's merged bill released last week, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act! AUCD emailed targeted alerts last week urging members to educate Senators about the importance of the CLASS Act. In an exciting turn of events, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who previously spoke out against the CLASS Act, has stated that he now supports the program. Conrad's support could help to change the minds of other undecided Senators. See a CLASS Act Q&A under Resources for more information. AUCD signed on to a thank you letter to Majority Leader Reid for his efforts in keeping the CLASS Act included in the final bill. In addition, AUCD co-sponsored a full page thank you letter to Reid in a local Nevada newspaper.

Restraints and Seclusion

AUCD participated in a meeting with staff of Sen. Dodd to discuss and provide input into legislation being drafted to limit the use of restraints and seclusion in schools.  The bill has not yet been introduced or released to the public.  However, it is hoped that bills will be introduced soon in both the House and Senate.  A bipartisan House version will be introduced by Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). The Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT). He is currently seeding a Republican cosponsor.

Rosa's Law

AUCD wrote letters of thanks to Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and eight other cosponsors for their introduction of a bill to eliminate the harmful and demeaning term "mental retardation" from our federal laws.  "Rosa's Law" (S. 2781), a bill based on a Maryland state law by the same name, replaces the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" in specific federal health, education, and labor laws, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Developmental Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. To read the text of the bill, AUCD's press statement, and accompanying documents, visit AUCD's homepage.

ODEP Update

AUCD staff attended a Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) update entitled "New Directions for the Office of Disability Policy at the Department of Labor." Assistant Secretary Kathleen Martinez provided an update on some of the Department of Labor's priorities and initiatives in this area under the leadership of Secretary Solis. Other panelists included Kelly Buckland of the National Council on Independent Living, Paul Tobin of the United Spinal Association, and Lori Golden of Ernst & Young.

ADA Amendments Act Proposed Regulations

The public comment period on proposed regulations to the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act ends today. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to conform its ADA regulations to the Amendments Act of 2008 in September. To submit comments, visit  


AUCD has signed on to a CCD letter to Senators Casey (D-PA), Hatch (R-UT) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Representatives Crenshaw (R-FL) and Meek for introducing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 493/H. 1205) and to urge them to hold a hearing on the bill.  The ABLE Act would enable families to establish a savings account for specified education, medical and community-based services, including housing, transportation, employment training, and supports for their child without disqualifying that child from receipt of funds from entitlement programs. This bill would allow individuals with disabilities to have access to the same type of savings instruments that all other Americans utilize through the use of 401K, IRA, and College Savings Accounts. H.R. 1205 currently has 135 cosponsors; the Senate companion bill (S. 493) has 11 cosponsors.

Child Abuse and Neglect

AUCD staff attended a meeting of the National Child Abuse Coalition Thursday to discuss, among other things, the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). Carmen Nazario, Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, spoke to the coalition about her perspectives and hopes for improving the nation's child welfare system. Her three stated goals include : 1. Economic success for children and families including changes during TANF reauthorization; 2. Improving Early childhood development, including ensuring Head Start is implemented to reflect its purpose; reauthorizing CAPTA and increasing funding for training for professionals in child protective services; and 3. Improve capacity of the agency (ACF) to accomplish these goals.

Automatic Captioning in YouTube

The Google/YouTube team announced Thursday the preliminary roll-out of automatic captioning in YouTube, an innovation that uses speech recognition technology to turn the spoken word into text captions. The project is intended to make YouTube more accessible to people who are deaf or have hearing impairments, but also makes video more accessible across languages. For the time being, only 13 channels will feature automatic captions, but all video owners will be able to upload transcripts and automatically time them. Over 60 accessibility leaders from organizations including the National Association of the Deaf, Gallaudet University, and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) were present for the announcement to give the project engineers their feedback. Visit the Google Public Policy Blog for more information.