AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 16, 2010

Congressional Schedule
The Federal Government (and the AUCD office) was closed most of last week due to two snowstorms that hit the region. Congress is also out this week for the Presidents Day recess. Both chambers are expected to reconvene on Monday, February 22.

Budget and Appropriations
AUCD emailed a summary analysis of the President's Budget last week.  The report is now posted on AUCD's public policy website.

Health Care Reform
With the swearing in of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) two weeks ago, Senate Democrats have few avenues remaining to move health care reform forward. President Obama announced that he would invite a bipartisan group of congressional leaders at the White House for a televised health summit on February 25. Each party would be given an opportunity to offer their ideas on how to lower health care costs while covering the many individuals who don't have health care coverage. In reply, some Republicans called for the Democrats to scrap their health care reform bills and to start the process over.  On Friday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that President Obama will prepare his own legislation to discuss at the summit, but offered few details regarding the substance of that legislation. Emanuel and Sebelius also invited Republicans to produce a comprehensive bill that would achieve health reform goals.  AUCD emailed an action alert to the entire network today with a toll-free number to contact members of Congress regarding the need to pass comprehensive federal health care reform.

Medicaid/ FMAP
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced legislation to extend the federal matching rate (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage or FMAP) for an additional six months.  The current enhanced FMAP expires on December 31, 2010.  The new bill would retain the FMAP increase through June 30, 2011. 

Jobs Legislation
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released an $84 billion jobs package Thursday that would give employers a payroll tax exemption for hiring people who have been unemployed for at least 60 days. Employers would also get a $1,000 tax credit for each employee they keep for at least a year, extend unemployment insurance and federal health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers through the end of May, and provide temporary fixes for Medicare physician fees and Medicare's physical therapy benefits. The bipartisan bill also includes an extension through 2010 of tax credit provisions that expired at the end of 2009.

Shortly after the release of the Baucus-Grassley bill, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he would instead take to the floor a smaller bill including four pieces of the Baucus-Grassley package: payroll tax relief for businesses that hire new workers and extensions of the Highway Trust Fund, the "Build America" bond program and expense deductions for small businesses. Under Reid's plan, other parts of the Baucus-Grassley package would be taken up later in separate legislation. Reid's bill does not include tax break extensions that the business community wants.

Restraint and Seclusion
The House Committee on Education and Labor approved HR 4247, the "Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act," on a bipartisan roll-call vote of 34-10 on January 28. During the committee markup, Chairman George Miller (D-CA) introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute that largely maintained the language of the bill, but clarified the bill's application to private schools (only applies to private schools that receive, or serve students who receive, federal funding from the Department of Education) and homeschooling families.

AUCD continues to work to find cosponsors for Sen. Dodd's (D-CT) companion bill, S 2860. A date has not yet been set for markup in the Senate. AUCD's resource page has been updated to include the text of the House bill as amended, AUCD's legislative summary of the bills, a report on a recent survey from TASH on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, a "myths and realities" document and talking points for the legislation.

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) released an update to its January 2009 report entitled School is not Supposed to Hurt.  The new report highlights progress made to prevent and reduce restraint and seclusion in 2009 as a result of grassroots efforts, and the slow response of states despite the strong beginnings of federal efforts.  The report also summarizes proposed laws, gives examples of continuing harm, and summarizes efforts in each state to reduce restraint and seclusion. NDRN is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities.

Child Abuse and Neglect Study
The fourth
National Incidence Study (NIS) of Child Abuse and Neglect was recently released by the Department of Health and Human Services.  NIS is congressionally mandated and serves as the nation's needs assessment on child abuse and neglect. It offers a unique perspective on the scope of the problem beyond the children that child protective service (CPS) agencies investigate. The NIS-4 is the first cycle to examine the relationship between the incidence of maltreatment and children's disability status. Under the Harm Standard, children with confirmed disabilities had significantly lower rates of physical abuse and of moderate harm from maltreatment, but they had significantly higher rates of emotional neglect and of serious injury or harm. Using the Endangerment Standard to define maltreatment revealed more extensive differences, some similar to the Harm Standard findings, but also some quite different results. Children with disabilities had a significantly lower rate of Endangerment Standard abuse overall, consistent with their lower rate of physical abuse under both standards. Please see the full report for more details.

New Biomonitoring Study
The Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative (LDDI), a national science-based project comprised of learning and developmental disability organizations, released a new report entitled,
Mind, Disrupted: How Toxic Chemicals May Affect  How We Think and Who We Are.  The official press release came out just prior to a Senate hearing on chemical policy reform. For the study, twelve leaders and self-advocates from the learning and developmental disabilities community volunteered to have their bodies tested for the presence of a set of known or suspected neurotoxic or endocrine disrupting chemicals. The report is a synthesis of the results of those tests and is intended to spotlight how chemical exposures affect the body.  The project sponsors also offer ten policy recommendations for Congress to consider. For more information, please see: or

Disability Policy Seminar
AUCD recently emailed an
announcement with instructions for registering for the 2010 Disability Policy Seminar to take place in Washington, DC on April 12-14.  Registration, hotel, and preliminary program information are all on AUCD's Events website.