AUCD Legislative News In Brief

May 5, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
   May 5, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 18
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are in session this week. Appropriations season is in full swing, with the anticipated release of 302(b) appropriations allocations and a number of appropriations hearings and mark-ups regarding funding for the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.


Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has said that she plans to announce appropriations subcommittee apportionments, known as 302(b) allocations, next week for FY 2015. The Appropriations Committee has $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending to allocate among the 12 appropriations subcommittees that write the annual funding bills.  This overall budget amount was set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 negotiated by House and Senate Committee Chairs Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Because of that deal, and the firewall between defense and non-defense spending, the Senate's allocations are not expected to differ widely from those also being proposed next week in the House. AUCD and 1,064 other organizations sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees urging them to return the Labor-HHS-Education allocation to the FY 2010 enacted level of $163.6 billion.  The committee has already approved interim allocations for the uncontroversial Military Construction/Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch spending, which have already moved to the floor in the House.


Following last week's hearing with Education Secretary Arnie Duncan regarding the Department of Education's FY15 budget request, the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, John Kline (R-MN), formally requested that the House Appropriations Committee increase funding for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Chairman Kline joined House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) in submitting a formal request for a $1.5 billion increase in IDEA Part B funding in the FY 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, bringing the total funding to $13 billion. The committee also prepared a chart on the federal funding gap for IDEA.

This week, on May 6, Secretary Duncan will testify before the Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Patty Murray (D-WA) regarding the President's proposed FY 2015 budget for the Department of Education.

The National Center for Education Statistics in the Department of Education released data pertaining to high school graduation rates in the United States: "Public High School Four-Year On-Time Graduation Rates and Event Dropout Rates: School Years 2010-11 and 2011-12, First Look." Students with disabilities had a graduation rate of 61% with a range from 81% in Montana to 24% in Nevada.

Health and Human Services

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the FY15 budget request for Health and Human Services (HHS). Witnesses include Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Mary Wakefield, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Mark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families. The hearing will be held on May 7 and will be webcast.


On May 7 at 10am ET, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies will mark up a FY15 appropriations bill for transportation, housing, and related programs.


On Wednesday, May 7, the House is scheduled to consider this week H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA). The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN), John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) would reauthorize and reform the Institute of Education Sciences, including improvements that would benefit children and youth with disabilities such as: prioritizing special education research funding with the IES; emphasize the elimination of the achievement gap; and increasing the pipeline of early career special education researchers. Learn more from the committee website.  

AUCD signed onto a CCD letter urging Congress to restore funding for special education research and educator preparation programs: National Center for Research in Special Education (NCSER) within the Institute of Education Sciences proposes; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act's (IDEA) Personnel Preparation proposes; and the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants under Title II of the Higher Education Act. Specifically, the letter requests: $70 million for NCSER; $90.6 million for IDEA Part D-Personnel; and $43 million for Teacher Quality Partnership Grants. 

On Friday, May 9, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, a bill sponsored by Chairman Kline (R-MN) along with an additional 22 bipartisan co-sponsors that would reauthorize and modernize existing charter school programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  There is no companion bill in the Senate at this time.

Higher Education

AUCD and other advocates are meeting with appropriators over the next two weeks to continued funding for the Model Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) programs. The TPSID programs provide individual supports and services for the academic and social inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in academic courses, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of the institution of higher education's regular postsecondary program.  Since the beginning of grant funding TPSID has supported the creation or expansion of programs at 45 colleges and universities serving 1,379 students.  Unfortunately, the President's FY 15 Budget would end funding for this program. For more information and to help educate your Members of Congress about the need to continue this program, see our issue brief on the funding and respond to AUCD's action alert.

Health and Human Services

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on May 8 on the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be secretary of Health and Human Services. The current secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, announced in early April that she would step down (see April 14 In Brief).


The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) adopted a "model policy on the appropriate use of telemedicine technology in the practice of medicine" at its annual meeting on April 26. The policy is not binding for state boards, but was intended to provide guidance in a rapidly changing health-care environment, according to a FSMB statement. The policy has proved controversial. The American Telemedicine Association urged the FSMB to change several provisions in the policy, including allowing reciprocal licensing agreements so physicians can practice telemedicine across state lines, and broadening the definition of telemedicine beyond videoconferencing to included telephone, email, text and other communications. Six national organizations - including AUCD partners Family Voices, United Spinal Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society - published an open letter in the Thursday, May 1 issue of Roll Call addressed to the new FSMB chairman and urging him to revisit the policy, stating that the policy "did not account for many of the safe, secure ways patients are accessing health care today, including 'audio-only' telephone." For more information, see this report from Kaiser Health News.

Law Enforcement Hearing

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, chaired by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), held a hearing on the need to train law enforcement on how to better interact with people with mental health conditions and developmental disabilities. Patty Saylor, mother of Ethan Saylor who died at the hands of law enforcement officers in a movie theater last year, testified as a witness on the panel, along with experts from law enforcement and a mental health advocate. AUCD network members, including the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, submitted statements for the record supporting enhanced training for law enforcement professionals.


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