The Arc New Jersey met with Majority staff from the state Senate and Assembly to discuss draft legislation in response to an audit of background checks for employees of community providers. The bill’s goal is to eliminate gaps in the background check requirements in order to ensure the health and safety of people with I/DD living in the community.
The Arc Wisconsin is working with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights Wisconsin, and Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources to develop a bill to recognize supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship. By providing legal recognition to supported decision-making agreements, professionals can be assured that supporters are legally authorized to view confidential documents.
The Arc Massachusetts is continuing to advocate for passage of Nicky’s Law (formerly S.64/H.80, now S.2213/H.4026), which creates a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee. As a result of the chapter’s efforts it has been reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
The Arc Pennsylvania is advocating for passage of Paul’s Law (SB 108). This bill prohibits discrimination in organ transplantation solely on the basis of disability, unless the individual’s disability is medically significant to the transplant. A disability affecting an individual’s ability to comply with post-transplant medical requirements cannot be considered medically significant if the individual has the necessary support system. Paul’s law in named after Paul Corby, a man with autism who has been denied a heart transplant because of his disability. SB 108 passed the Pennsylvania Senate and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. To learn more, view the press conference hosted by The Arc Pennsylvania and Senator John Sabatina.
The Arc Pennsylvania is advocating for passage of SB 96/HB 505, which extends hate crime protections to people with disabilities. Current law only protects individuals who are victims of crimes based on race, color, religion, or national origin. In a press conference, Maureen Cronin, Executive Director of The Arc Pennsylvania, discussed a case in which a man with cerebral palsy was mocked for his disability and then punched. The local prosecutor stated that he could not prosecute the case as a hate crime because the statute would not allow it.
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.
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.
Jill Smith, grant officer for The Arc Indiana, and Kelsey Cowley, President of Self-Advocates of Indiana, testified before an interim study committee of the Indiana General Assembly in support of supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship. Cowley stated: “An important part of self-advocacy is choice. We believe all people should have the choice to choose where, how and with whom they live their lives.” The committee recommended no action be taken until data from a pilot project in Wayne County is available.
The Arc New Jersey is in the process of publishing its annual “Get Out the Vote” Guide. The Guide will include information about candidates for Governor and 120 legislative seats. Gubernatorial candidates are being asked to share their stances on DSP wages and Medicaid issues. The Guide will also include information about finding you polling location, registering to vote, and seeking accommodations.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc California, a legislative committee ordered an audit of the state’s enforcement of hate crimes. The audit will consist of a survey of more than 240 local and state law enforcement agencies, and a more detailed review of four local agencies (a city police department, a county sheriff’s office, a university police department, and a jail).