AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 4, 2010

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 4, 2010   |  Vol. XII, Issue 91
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Congress cleared a continuing resolution (CR) Thursday to fund federal agencies and programs at current levels until December 3.  The House passed the measure a few hours after the Senate approved it.  The CR is needed because Congress failed to approve any of the 12 regular appropriations bills for FY 2011, which began October 1.  The CR funds most programs, including those under the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education, at FY 2010 levels.  Prior to final passage, the Senate narrowly defeated an amendment by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to use the CR to cut discretionary spending by five percent. Congress is on recess until November 15.

Restraint and Seclusion
In a positive development, Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday to establish federal minimum standards to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.  The Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 3895) is the Senate companion to H.R. 4247, passed with overwhelming support by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2010, and is a modified version of the previously-introduced Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (S. 2860).  This bipartisan bill contains strong protections against the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, as well as a number of investments in preventive techniques and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.  There is still a chance this bill could pass in the lame duck session if it receives more bipartisan support.  Please visit AUCD's Action Center to educate your Members of Congress about the need for this bill to pass before the end of this Congress in January.  The chances for its reintroduction and passage may be more difficult in the next Congress.  For more information, please read AUCD's Summary of protections in the bill and visit our Restraint and Seclusion policy page.

Accessible Technology
The Senate passed the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (S. 3304), sponsored by Sen. Pryor (D-AR) on September 28.  The bill requires all modern communications technologies to be accessible to people with hearing and vision disabilities.  It also requires that emergency broadcast information be accessible to people with visual and cognitive disabilities.  The House passed a companion bill (H.R. 3101), sponsored by Rep. Markey (D-MA) on July 26.  The next step is for the President to sign the bill into law.

Midterm Elections
The November 2 mid-term elections are fast approaching.  Those who represent us in Congress can have a huge impact on the issues we care about.  It is important to remember that the elections also determine the majority in Congress and often set the course for policy development.  Please help to get out the vote and educate yourselves and your neighbors about the candidates' positions.  If you are coming to AUCD's annual meeting, please don't forget to vote early by absentee ballot or on site in early voting states.  For information about the races in your state and important voting dates, visit
AUCD's online Election Center.

GOP Platform
House Republicans recently unveiled their "Pledge to America", a 21-page document outlining the party's agenda for the next Congress.  A major tenet of the document is reducing federal spending by establishing strict budget caps, requiring sunset dates for all federal programs, and rolling back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.  The Pledge also calls for permanent extension of soon-to-expire tax cuts for middle-class and wealthy Americans, the immediate repeal of the Affordable Care Act, except for its most popular consumer protections, and requiring each bill introduced in Congress to cite the specific constitutional authority upon which it is justified.

Health Reform
AUCD, in collaboration with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Health Task Force, submitted
comments on interim final rules for group health plans and health insurance issuers relating to internal claims and appeals and external review processes under the Affordable Care Act.  AUCD is working with the task force to draft comments on the planning and establishment of state-level exchanges.

Also related to health care, the Kaiser Family Foundation has developed a helpful animated video entitled, Health Reform Hits Main Street to explain the Affordable Care Act; the federal government's site,, has added new private health insurance pricing and benefits information to its Insurance Finder tool.  Visitors can use the tool to easily compare policies available in their area.

Medicaid & State Budgets
The Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU) held a briefing Thursday to examine the challenges facing states as they begin preparing to implement health reform. High unemployment, shrunken state revenues, and increased demands for Medicaid and other services persist as states prepare for the phase-out of enhanced federal assistance for Medicaid (FMAP) in mid-2011.  At the briefing, KCMU released the results of its annual 50-state Medicaid budget survey, which provides a detailed look at trends in enrollment, spending, and benefits in state Medicaid programs.  Another report provides updated, state-by-state monthly Medicaid enrollment numbers for December 2009, and a third report examines workforce challenges that states face in implementing health reform based on case studies in five states.  For more information and to access the reports, visit AUCD's Medicaid webpage.

Social Security
Last week, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)
Social Security Task Force held a briefing with representatives from Social Security Works to finalize work on the  Strengthen Social Security Campaign Principles.  Social Security Works is a group designed to protect and improve the economic status of disadvantaged and at-risk populations and to ensure the adequacy of Social Security for current and future beneficiaries.  Social Security Works recently convened a group of organizations to address threats to the well-being of Social Security by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and others. CCD was fortunate to receive special funding from Social Security Works to produce public education materials that focus on issues of concern for people with disabilities and their families. 

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted unanimously Thursday to support the
Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010 (S.1481) sponsored by both Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Johanns (R-NE).  This legislation, supported by AUCD, is intended to reform and reinvigorate HUD's Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities.  Specifically, S.1481 authorizes an innovative 811 Demonstration program which promotes integrated housing opportunities for people with disabilities and could create 3,500-5,000 or more new affordable and accessible units every year without increasing Section 811 appropriations.  During recent years, the program has produced fewer than 1,000 units annually.  The next step is for the Senate to consider the bill, hopefully by unanimous consent. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill by a strong bipartisan vote of 357-51 on July 22, 2009. For more information on this legislation please visit                                   

Child Abuse Prevention
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee postponed its markup of legislation, S. 3817, to reauthorize the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  The bipartisan bill was introduced by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and is cosponsored by Sens. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA).  The bill extends CAPTA funding for five years through 2015, with an authorized funding level of $132 million for 2011 and such sums as necessary in the out years for basic grants to states and discretionary grants.  A new date for consideration has not been set.  For more information about CAPTA, please visit AUCD's Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment policy page.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller this month asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the effectiveness of federal programs that exist to help students with disabilities transition from high school to college or the workforce.  Recent studies show that only about half of students with disabilities graduate from high school with a regular diploma.  In 2009, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 14.5 percent. 
Read the letter on the Committee site.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently invalidated a federal regulation that permitted teaching interns currently working toward alternative certification to be considered "highly qualified" under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (known as No Child Left Behind).  Renee v. Duncan, No. 08-1661 (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2010).  The plaintiffs, a group of low-income parents in California, alleged that teaching interns were disproportionately working in schools with large minority and low-income populations.  The statute defines a "highly qualified" teacher as one who "has obtained full State certification as a teacher (including certification obtained through alternative routes to certification)".  However, the regulation at issue in this case allowed teachers who had not yet obtained certification but were currently participating in a certification program to be considered "highly qualified".  This decision will hopefully benefit students with disabilities by ensuring that all teachers have the necessary skills to teach them.

Autism Resource
The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) announced Wednesday the award of $1.87 million for fiscal year 2010 to The Arc of the U.S. to establish Autism Now: the National Autism Resource and Information Center.  According to The Arc press release, new Center the will work in collaboration with the Autism Self-Advocacy Network and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, to provide access to high-quality resources and information on community-based services and interventions for people with ASD and their families, through a national dissemination network, regional events, training and technical assistance and an innovative web presence. 

Note from the Editor
AUCD Legislative News In Brief has a new look!  As always, we appreciate any feedback on the style and content well as reports of any trouble navigating within the new template.


For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website:

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