AUCD Legislative News In Brief

December 19, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  December 19, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 50
Subscribe to AUCD InBrief  |  AUCD InBrief Archive  | RSS  |  AUCD InBrief Archive

Congressional Schedule
There was a lot of activity last week with Congress trying to wrap up business before leaving town.  Most importantly, Congress passed a package of nine bills to fund government programs for the remainder of the 2012 fiscal year that began on October 1.  President Obama is expected to sign it this week before the current continuing resolution expires on Friday.  The Senate also passed a short-term extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut, renewed unemployment benefits and preserved Medicare reimbursement rates for providers.  While most were expecting the House to pass the Senate bill and adjourn for the holidays, House leaders threatened to reject the tax extension bill.  Therefore, it is unclear when the Congress will officially adjourn.

FY 2012 Appropriations
Late Thursday, Congress finally came to agreement on final spending levels for the remaining nine appropriations bills for FY 2012, including the Labor, HHS, Education spending bill.  The bill was passed by the House and Senate over the weekend.  AUCD is pleased to report that, although some programs important to our network received cuts, most of our core network programs fared well given the extremely difficult budget environment.  DD Act core programs, including UCEDDs, are level-funded, except for Projects of National Significance, which sustained a $6 million cut.  LEND programs receive level-funding.  NIH received a small increase.  A preliminary table showing funding levels for Labor, HHS, and Education programs was emailed to the network on Friday.  A full analysis and completed table will be coming soon.

Restraint & Seclusion in Schools
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced Friday the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020) to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.  The bill would prohibit seclusion and mechanical and chemical restraint, restrict the use of physical restraint to emergency situations, require training and certification of school personnel who implement restraint and require parental notification when restraint is used.  The bill also authorizes grants to states to carry out the minimum standards and improve school climate through the use of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports.  It is similar to the House bill by the same name, H.R. 1381, introduced by Representative George Miller (D-CA) in April.  AUCD is working with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force and the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS) to urge passage of the bill. 

News outlets report today that Republicans in the House of Representatives are abandoning bipartisan discussions to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (known as No Child Left Behind).  To date, the Republican leadership on the House Education and Workforce Committee has introduced three bills to address different pieces of the law, but only one of those bills - aimed at expanding successful charter schools - has gained bipartisan support and passed that chamber.  None of the bills have dealt with the two most controversial parts of the law: the school accountability system and teacher evaluations.  

Health Care Reform
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday that it will give states more flexibility in the implementation of state-based health insurance exchanges as required by the Affordable Care Act.  The law ensures that health plans offered in the individual and small group markets, both inside and outside of the exchanges, offer a comprehensive package of items and services known as "essential health benefits."  HHS intends to propose that essential health benefits are defined using a benchmark approach, under which states would have the flexibility to select a benchmark plan that reflects the scope of services offered by a typical employer plan.  For more information, see the HHS bulletin.


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:

AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910