AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 17, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 17, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 42
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Congressional Schedule
The House is in recess this week.  The Senate is in session and will take up the first fiscal year 2012 package of three appropriations bills: Agriculture, Commerce-Justice Science and Transportation-HUD.  On Wednesday, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will mark up legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as No Child Left Behind.

A draft bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was released on Tuesday by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA).  The HELP Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill Wednesday, and a number of amendments are expected.  The draft bill was negotiated by Chairman Harkin and HELP Ranking Member Michael Enzi (R-WY), and makes a number of changes to the existing law known as No Child Left Behind.  It includes a number of positive changes for students with disabilities, including the inclusion of Universal Design for Learning, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.  However, advocates have some concerns related to the bill's treatment of accountability measures and teacher qualifications.  AUCD is working with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force to provide recommendations to improve the bill and support amendments to strengthen it.  AUCD is also hopeful that an amendment will be introduced to include provisions limiting the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.  The bill text, manager's amendment and related documents can be found here.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to ask your Senators to support amendments to ensure teacher quality.

As has been widely reported in the press, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner last Friday that cast doubt on the Administration's support for the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) program.  The letter states that the Administration does "...not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time."  It recommends that the Administration continue to "work with Congress and stakeholders, including consumers, insurers, and employers, to continue exploring all of the options to address the critical long-term care needs of Americans."   Also included with the letter is a report compiled by the HHS CLASS Office that is intended to assist the Secretary with implementation.  During a briefing today on CLASS, one of the actuaries that worked on developing viable options for implementation reported that their work included a number of options that could be designed to work in the marketplace.  AUCD and other disability and aging advocates believe HHS' announcement is premature.  Advance CLASS, a national advocacy organization dedicated to the implementation of the program, released a statement today urging President Obama to continue with implementation of the program.  Enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, the CLASS program is a national insurance program financed by voluntary payroll deductions to help people cover the cost of long-term services and supports if they develop significant functional impairments.

Deficit Reduction Negotiations
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has continued to meet behind closed doors to come up with a package of cuts totaling at least $1.5 trillion; if it does not, a $1.2 trillion across-the-board cut to defense and domestic discretionary spending will be enacted.  Last Friday was the deadline for authorizing committees to send recommendations to the "super committee."  Democratic Governors also met with and provided recommendations to the committee.  AUCD continues to meet with members of Congress to educate them about real-world implications of major cuts to Medicaid and other programs that support people with disabilities to fully participate in the community.

Legislative Affairs at the Annual Meeting
The Legislative Affairs Committee is planning a number of events at this year's Annual Meeting and Conference which are sure to be of interest to In Brief readers.  On Sunday, November 6th, please join us from 4:45 - 6:00 pm for a Legislative Affairs Briefing to learn about the most up to date information related to federal disability policy.  On Monday, November 7th beginning at 9:45a.m., the committee is hosting "Promoting Employment First Policies and Practices", a three-hour policy symposium featuring Bill Kiernan, John Butterworth, David Mank, Madeline Will and Michael-Gamel McCormick.  That afternoon, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a long-time disability advocate, is scheduled to reflect on legislative accomplishments benefiting people with disabilities and their families over the past 40 years at the opening plenary - "The Journey Continues: Where We've Been".  Plenary panelists include Connie Garner, Charlie Lakin, Valerie Williams and Bob Williams.  Obama Administration officials will discuss current challenges, directions and initiatives affecting the AUCD network at Tuesday's Plenary B - "The Journey Continues: Where We Are".   Speakers include Kareem Dale, Cindy Mann, Sue Swenson, Henry Claypool, Jonathon Young and Charlie Lakin.  Following the plenary, we hope you'll come and hear about what ten years' worth of policy fellows have to say about their experiences in DC and beyond at "Celebrating Ten Years of Leadership in Disability Policy" featuring former AUCD Disability Policy Leadership Fellows.  The celebration continues that evening at the Awards Gala, during which the Legislative Affairs Committee will recognize Tim Lynagh from Rep. Chris Smith's (R-4th-NJ) office and Michael Barnard from Senator Robert Menendez's (D-NJ) office by presenting them with the Gold Star Award for their outstanding efforts in the passage of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act.  We look forward to seeing you at these events! Online registration closes on Oct. 21.


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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