AUCD Legislative News In Brief

April 28, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  April 28, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 17
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are in session this week. The House is planning to consider its first two appropriations bills this week governing spending for military construction/veterans affairs and the legislative branch. The Senate will vote on several nominations, including David Weil of Massachusetts to be the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor.


With the House and Senate back in session after the Easter/Passover recess, lawmakers on both sides of the Hill are planning to move quickly to pass the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY 2015 before the August recess and before midterm election season begins in full swing.  However, it is expected that the Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bill will be among the last to be considered, since it is the largest and usually the most difficult to move.


The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing on April 29 to review the Education Department's FY 2015 budget proposal and hear testimony from the Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan. The Education and the Workforce committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), does not have jurisdiction over appropriations for education programs; that authority rests with the appropriations committee. Instead, this hearing will likely focus on the department's proposed policies and programs. The hearing will be webcast live and more information is available on the committee website. The Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held a hearing on the education budget request on April 8, which is archived on that committee's website.


AUCD participated in an open public hearing of a Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) advisory committee reviewing evidence of the risks and benefits association with using Electronic Stimulus Devices (electric shocks) for behavior modification. The FDA put together the committee and heard testimony from the public to help them determine whether the agency should ban these devices. By law, a medical device for human use may be banned if it presents "substantial deception or an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury."  Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., of the Miami Mailman Center (UCEDD) participated on the advisory panel.  Kim Musheno, Director of Public Policy, delivered AUCD's statement urging the panel to recommend banning the devices and read testimony prepared by AUCD Policy Committee Member, Mark Smith of the Nebraska UCEDD).  AUCD was one of 17 organizations registered to testify, all in favor of banning the device.  Several representatives of the Judge Rotenberg Center, the only known center to still use such devices, testified in favor of approving such devices.  A majority of the advisory committee appeared to agree that the risks outweigh the benefits. See FDA's summary of the all-day meeting.  The next step will be for the FDA to issue a proposed rule, followed by an opportunity for public input before a final rule is published.

Law Enforcement Hearing

More witnesses have been announced in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on law enforcement and people with disabilities (for more information see April 21 In Brief). The hearing is titled Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety. New witnesses include representatives from the Department of Justice, local police and fire departments in Chicago, IL and Plano, TX, and a judge from Minneapolis, MN.

Affordable Care Act

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced an additional special enrollment period for people who were enrolled in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). The PCIP was originally scheduled to end in 2013 on the basis that people would transition to coverage within the exchange; however, the Administration extended the benefits to April 30, the deadline to enroll in coverage on Now the administration as announced an additional special enrollment period (SEP) for those who have not found new coverage as of May 1 due to "exceptional circumstances." This is now one of the many existing policies that trigger a special enrollment period for an individual. Other triggering events include the birth of a child or moving to a new state. To learn more about special enrollment periods, see the glossary or this archived webinar from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


AUCD signed on to a letter developed by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force in opposition to a bill (S. 1909), the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals with Communities through Education Act (The CHOICE Act).  The bill was introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) in January (it now has seven Republican co-sponsors) and is scheduled for markup this week. Title II of the bill would allow states to distribute funding received by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) directly to parents of students with disabilities to pay for educational services provided at public schools.   CCD's letter states that this policy is not needed for several reasons: 1) IDEA guarantees each eligible child a free, appropriate, public education; 2) a private school has no legal requirement to meet a child's unique needs and parents that place their children in private schools have no recourse if the school does not meet their child's educational needs.  In addition, private schools are not required to employ highly qualified staff; and 3) the CHOICE Act will divert tax dollars away from public schools at a time when public education needs more support from all sectors of our society. Public schools must serve all students who walk through their doors, regardless of degree of disability need or cost to support.

Disability Treaty

In a new video message, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) reasserts his commitment to U.S. ratification of the CRPD and calls on the community to support the effort by sending in our stories. Do you have a disability and have had difficulty studying or traveling abroad? Did you go abroad for work or school and find challenges when you arrived? Were you unable to go because of your disability?  

Your story could help advocates work towards ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -- by putting a FACE to why it is important!  The CRPD is an international human rights treaty, modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and has been ratified by 145 countries.  With your help, we hope to make the U.S. #146!  If you have a story, please share it on the CRPD advocacy site.

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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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