Governor Jerry Brown recently signed six affordable housing bills supported by The Arc California, including:
- SB 2, which creates a $75 fee for real estate transaction documents not to exceed $225 per transaction, with a hardship refund for low income homeowners, to fund affordable housing projects;
- SB 3, which puts a $4 billion bond measure on the November 2018 ballot, providing $3 billion for existing affordable housing programs and $1 billion for veterans’ housing;
- SB 35, which exempts apartment developers who pay a prevailing wage from certain local regulations in communities that aren’t meeting housing production targets;
- SB 540, which allows local governments to create “workforce housing opportunity zones” in which development can be expeditated;
- SB 166, which requires local governments to accommodate unmet local housing needs throughout the entire planning process; and
- SB 167, which prohibits a local government from turning down a housing development for low, very low, or moderate-income households unless its rationale is supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
The Arc Massachusetts is continuing to seek passage of S. 1169, which creates a system of licensure for dental therapists. Massachusetts has a severe shortage of dentists who serve people with I/DD, and even fewer accept Medicaid. The purpose of the bill is to address this shortage of dental services for underserved populations, including those with I/DD. The bill requires that the curriculum for dental therapists include training on working with patients with I/DD. Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for the chapter testified before the Massachusetts General Court’s Joint Committee on Public Health. She discussed her challenges finding quality dental care for her son, Neil and Tyler, who have autism and mitochondrial disease. Their dentist ignored tooth decay until it was severe enough to require hospitalization and anesthesia because he was unable to treat them without it. She stated, “They deserve better care, more effort and I needed more communication and oral hygiene support strategies.”
The Arc Michigan is advocating for passage of SB 541, which creates a system of licensure for dental therapists. Dental therapists would be allowed to perform certain procedures currently reserved for dentists only. They must work under the supervision of a dentist in a setting for underserved populations, such as people with I/DD. Dental therapists could help address the severe shortage of dental providers that limits access to care, especially for people with I/DD. SB 541 was approved by the Committee on Health Policy.
Two chapters of The Arc Connecticut, The Arc Favarh and The Arc Litchfield, hosted a meeting with state Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), and Representatives Jay Case (R-Winchester), Mike Demicco (D-Farmington), John Hampton (D-Simsbury), and Derek Slap (D-West Hartford). Parents and self-advocates at the meeting implored the legislators to restore funding for disability services, which has lapsed due to the state’s failure to pass a budget. The legislators assured attendees that they were sympathetic, but did not reveal what a future budget may look like. Lauren Traceski, a client of The Arc Favarh, discussed being unable to work on a few days this summer because her employment supports weren’t funded and said, “A job is how we show our success.” See The Arc Connecticut’s Facebook page and this article from the Hartford Courant for more information.
The Arc Mercer, a local chapter of The Arc New Jersey, recently created a self-advocacy organization for LGBTQ people with I/DD called Special Needs Alliance for Pride (SNAP). SNAP serves the role of providing support, socialization, and advocacy. Lt. Governor candidate and former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver recently attended an event they hosted to speak to members about the importance of diversity in the state.
Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified at a hearing of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in favor increased rate for Family Stabilization Services. These rates are being increased by 2.72% in accordance with a settlement agreement. Maura testified that this increase is not sufficient to comply with the “integration mandate” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision. The Arc Massachusetts believes these rates are insufficient to address the growing workforce shortage and leave families and individuals without properly trained and supervised staff.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc Massachusetts, the House voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s line-item vetoes of $6 million in Community Residential funding. Funding had already been cut by the conference committee. The override vote will now go to the Senate for consideration.
The Arc Minnesota and other organizations are participating in Renter’s Week of Action, which takes place September 18-22. This series of Events in the Twin Cities provides organizations with an opportunity to collaborate, learn from each other and take action to expand access to affordable housing. The week involves multiple rallies, forums and other advocacy opportunities. Ellen Baudler, Director of Housing Access for the chapter, will attend a St. Paul City Council hearing to advocate for housing for people with disabilities at the site of a demolished Ford truck assembly plant.
The Arc Pennsylvania is supporting HB 1650, which will close Pennsylvania’s five remaining state-run institutions. Executive Director Maureen Cronin, who was on the Pennhurst staff when it closed discussed the topic with the Tribune-Review. She is quoted as saying “You can’t deny that, at one time, there was a movement to separate people with disabilities from the community,” and “It’s hard to imagine that we would need legislation in 2017 to close these institutions. Nobody thought they would stay open that long.” The Arc Pennsylvania has a long history of advocating for institutional closures, including serving as chief plaintiff in the case that resulted in the closure of Pennhurst.
The Arc Washington and The Arc King County joined other disability organizations in filing an amicus brief in the case McCleary v. Washington. In this case, the Supreme Court of Washington ruled that the statewide school funding scheme was inadequate and in violation of the state constitution. The court imposed a $100,000/day fine on the state until the state develops an adequate funding scheme. The state is now seeking to lift that sanction. The Arc’s amicus brief explains that the state is still in violation of its constitution because it limits the percentage of students receiving special education services for whom a district can receive enhanced funding and, therefore, discriminates against students in districts with an above-average proportion of students receiving special education services. The full brief can be found here.