AUCD Legislative News In Brief

April 25, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  April 25, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 17
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Congressional Schedule
Congress is on recess for one more week, returning May 2.  Recess is an excellent time to meet with your members of Congress and educate them about disability issues while they are in their home offices.  To learn more about issues that are active in Congress right now, visit AUCD's Public Policy page or Action Center. 

Budget & Appropriations
Behind-the-scenes work on the fiscal 2012 federal budget process continues this week despite the Congressional recess.  A bipartisan group of Senators referred to as the "Gang of Six" is working to finalize its deficit reduction plan, which is expected to be released soon after Congress returns.  With several budget proposals on the table, lawmakers will have a variety of issues to negotiate as they prepare to vote on raising the federal debt ceiling.  All of the deficit-reduction plans being discussed would impact mandatory and discretionary programs upon which people with disabilities rely.  To learn more and contact your Members of Congress, see AUCD's Recess Action Alert.  

Health Care Reform
The U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli that the Court fast-track review of his lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and bypass the appeals courts.  Such requests are rarely granted.  The case now goes to the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, with oral arguments scheduled to begin May 10.  Another multi-state case challenging ACA will go before the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit with oral arguments beginning on June 8. 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Wednesday an initiative aimed at educating college seniors about their new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.  Prior to ACA, many students lost health care coverage provided by their parents' insurance policies upon graduating from college.  ACA allows young adults to remain on their parents' plans until the age of 26.  This provision is expected to help approximately 1.2 million young adults maintain coverage.  The Secretaries sent a letter to college and university presidents urging them to spread the information, and their Departments have developed several informational tools, including a flyer and a Facebook page, to help inform students.

The United Spinal Association recently published a report detailing the answers to the twenty most frequently asked questions that people with disabilities have about the health reform law.  To read the report, and for all the latest resources and information on the Affordable Care Act, visit AUCD's Health Reform Hub.  

Post-Secondary Education
A notice of an open meeting and public hearing for the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities was published last Monday.  Established under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the Commission is charged with conducting a comprehensive study to assess barriers that affect the delivery and quality of accessible instructional materials for postsecondary students with print disabilities and making recommendations related to developing a comprehensive approach to improving access to materials in specialized formats.  The purpose of the public hearing is to gather information from stakeholders on issues pertaining to accessible instructional materials in postsecondary education.  Please see the notice for instructions on submitting comments and participating in the public hearing. 

AUCD joined more than 60 civil rights, disability, parent, student, grassroots and education organizations in signing on to a letter to Congress and principles for ensuring that all students have access to fully prepared and effective teachers.  The efforts of the coalition are a response to a recently-enacted change to the statutory definition of a "highly qualified teacher" in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, "No Child Left Behind").  Enacted as part of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government, the provision overturns a 9th Circuit Court decision and codifies (makes law) a regulation that allows states to describe teachers as "highly qualified" when they are still in training - and, in many cases, just beginning training - in alternative route certification programs.  The principles are offered to guide discussions on teacher quality during ESEA reauthorization.


For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.


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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