AUCD Legislative News In Brief

January 11, 2010

Congressional Schedule
The House returns from its recess tomorrow, Jan. 12, and will meet to establish a quorum for the second session of the 111th Congress. The Senate will hold a pro forma session Jan. 19 and reconvene on Jan. 20.  Health care reform will continue to consume much of the congressional schedule as the House and Senate bills are reconciled during the conference process.  

Health Care Reform
House and Senate leaders continue to negotiate conference procedures for the health reform bills passed just before the holiday recess. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly said that the House does not plan to accept the Senate's health reform bill in its entirety, and that she will fight for key provisions in the House version. House Democratic leaders held a mass conference call with members to discuss the conference process. During the call, nearly every major area of disagreement with the Senate was discussed: the Senate's proposed tax on high-costs "Cadillac" insurance plans, restrictions on abortion services, the timetable for changes in the health insurance market, and whether to include the House bill's government-run public option. Pelosi and other top Democrats have indicated several areas where concessions will be made, including eliminating the public option.  

AUCD is working with a number of aging and disability advocacy groups to ensure the inclusion of the CLASS Act in final health reform legislation. As the House and Senate versions are reconciled during the conference process, the provisions of the program will be fine-tuned to ensure its success and long-term solvency. AUCD has signed on to a letter to House and Senate leaders urging that the CLASS Act remains in a final bill. The letter also urges the preservation of certain Senate provisions (the Community First Choice Option and four Home and Community Based Services provisions) and the allocation of resources to the Aging and Disability Resource Centers.  

House Representative and Senators Announce Retirement
With less than a year before the mid-term election, Representative Henry Brown (R-SC), and Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) announced last week their decision not to seek re-election to return for the 112th Congress next year.  Brown, 74, said he would like to spend more time at his family farm.  Dorgan, who has spent thirty years in the Senate, said he is looking forward to writing books, teaching, and working on energy policy in the private sector.  Dodd, who has also been in the senate for thirty years, cited personal and family battles with health, the loss of his friend Senator Edward Kennedy, and an upcoming campaign where polls have him at a disadvantage that led to his decision. Sen. Dodd has been a champion of children's and disability issues, such as the CLASS Act. Some Democrats worry that the pending vacancies may give Republicans extra seats, thereby ending the 60 vote majority that they currently hold.  

Restraint and Seclusion
AUCD signed on to a letter to both houses of Congress requesting more cosponsors for the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247, S. 2860). The bills, which are very similar, outline federal standards for the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. For more information, and to view the text of the bills, visit AUCD's resource page on this issue. To ask your members to cosponsor the bills, please visit AUCD's action center 

Children and State Budget Cuts
Every Child Matters along with its partners, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), and Voices for America's Children, have just released a new report, State Budget Cuts: America's Kids Pay the Price. Plagued by record-setting revenue losses, the housing and credit crisis, and high unemployment, state budgets are suffering tremendously. The report shows that millions of children are feeling the effects as states cut basic services and programs, such as Head Start and Early Head Start. The document urges the federal government to expand children's programs that will create new jobs while providing long-term benefits for children.

New Policy Fellow
AUCD welcomed this year's Disability Policy Leadership Fellow, Paul Galonsky, MPA, last Monday.  Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of South Florida and a Master of Public Administration from the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware.  Paul worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Healthy Delawareans with Disabilities: Bridging the Gap Project (HDWD) at the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies. 

Prior to becoming a Graduate Research Assistant, Paul was employed with the Mental Health Association in Delaware for over eight years, where he developed and organized state workshops and conferences on mental illness prevention and promotion.  He was honored with the University of Delaware's 2008 Ratledge Family Award for Delaware Public Service for his outreach efforts towards promoting good mental health and public service in Delaware, a proclamation from Wilmington Delaware's Mayor James Baker, and the Wilmington Award in gratitude for his dedication and loyal service to the citizens of Wilmington. We hope that many in the network will get to know and work with Paul in his fellowship year.