The Arc New Jersey is advocating against passage of Stephen Komninos’ Law (S516/A2503) as written. The legislation aims to reduce abuse and neglect, by requiring, among other things, two site visits to every residential and day habilitation by the Department of Human Services. Members of the New Jersey Self-Advocacy Network (a self-advocacy group affiliated with The Arc New Jersey) testified that group homes and supervised apartments are their homes and that state inspections are an invasion of their privacy. The Arc New Jersey has attempted to work the family members behind the bill but has been unable to reach an agreement. The bill has passed the New Jersey Assembly and two Senate Committees and is awaiting a vote on the Senate Floor.
The Colorado General Assembly has adjourned with many victories for The Arc Colorado including:
- HB 1343, which creates a conflict free case management system, meaning that case management agencies cannot also be service providers, unless the only willing provider of case management in a region is also the only willing service provider;
- HB 1276, which bans prone, mechanical, or chemical restraint in public schools except in cases where a student displays a deadly weapon, it is performed by a trained police officer who has made a law enforcement referral, or it occurs at a school under the jurisdiction of the Division of Youth Corrections;
- HB 1087, which creates a pilot office of public guardianship for incapacitated adults without family or friends able to serve as guardian or enough money to pay a private guardian;
- HB 1046, which eliminates derogatory terms such as “mental retardation” and “mental deficiency” from state law and replaces them with “persons with an intellectual and developmental disability” and “persons with a mental illness”; and
- HB 1188, which makes harassment based on disability or sexual orientation a class 1 misdemeanor, bringing it to the same level as harassment based on race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.
Thanks to the advocacy of The Arc Minnesota, the Minnesota Legislature passed and Governor Mark Dayton signed a Department of Health and Human Services funding bill that makes modest progress on several key priorities including:
- A 13% reduction in parental fees for participation in the TEFRA program.
- A 1% increase in the Medicaid spend-down, or about $10 per month
- $496,000 for statewide self-advocacy efforts;
- New services for those seeking competitive employment, pending approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and
- A 1.5% increase for personal care attendants under the SEIU contract, however there was no across the board increase for DSPs.
The Arc Arizona has wrapped up its legislative session with many victories, including:
- HB 2208, which allows schools to offer inhalers to students when permitted by a physician, was signed by Governor Doug Ducey;
- SB 1030, which adds occupational therapy as a benefit under Medicaid, was included in the state budget;
- SB 1031, which creates a “Committee on Incompetent, Nonrestorable and Dangerous Defendants” to evaluate short and long term treatment and supervision that will include a person with expertise in developmental disabilities, was signed by Governor Ducey;
- SB 1102, which would have increased reimbursement rates for services provided through the Division of Developmental Disabilities was not heard in committee, however the state budget included increases to cover the cost of compliance with the state’s minimum wage increase;
- SB 1103, which would have provided funds for home and community based services provided through Area Agencies on Aging, was not heard in committee, but was included in the state budget;
- SB 1104, which increases funding for providers of services to the elderly and persons with disabilities, was not heard in committee, but was included in the state budget;
- SB 1317, which allows specially designed instruction aligned with an IEP to be delivered by general education teachers or other certified personnel and requires the State Board of Education to amend its rules to eliminate confusion on the instruction options for students with disabilities, was signed by Governor Ducey.
Heather Bump, a self-advocate from the NYSARC network, shared her experience advocating on both the federal and state level in an essay. She visited Member of Congress on Capitol Hill as part of the Disability Policy Seminar to advocate against the American Health Care Act. On the state level, she was active with the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition, writing letters, signing petitions, marching, making phone calls, and meeting directly with elected officials.
The 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly concluded at the end of April and The Arc Indiana had a very successful session. Following is a summary of The Arc’s key legislative initiatives.
- Budget Bill: The two-year biennial state budget includes a 5% increase in Medicaid Waiver rates to increase DSP wages. And the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) program in Indiana received funding needed through the State Treasurer’s office to start marketing efforts and have the Treasurer serve as chairperson of the ABLE Board.
- Senate Resolution 44 – Supported Decision Making – A Senate Resolution, urging the legislative council to study the topic of supported decision making as an alternative option to adult guardianship, passed the Senate and will go to Legislative Council for consideration to be directed to a summer study committee for discussion.
- SB 61 – School Resource Officers – Requires a school resource officer to report all incidents of seclusion and restraint involving the school resource officer. Requires the commission on seclusion and restraint in schools to adopt rules concerning reporting requirements for the use of seclusion and restraint by school resource officers.
- SB 390 – Employment of Individuals with Disabilities – Provides that the policy of the state is to promote competitive, integrated employment, including self-employment as the first and preferred option when providing services to individuals with disabilities. Adds numerous members to the Commission on Rehabilitation Services. Adds additional responsibilities to the commission in regards to employment initiatives.
- HB 1102 – Task Force to Assess Services – Establishes a seventeen (17) member task force for assessment of services and supports for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
The chapter’s full legislative wrap up can be viewed here.
The Maryland General Assembly has adjourned sine die, leaving The Arc Maryland with many accomplishments to celebrate. Several bills the chapter supported have passed including:
- HB 1/SB 230, which requires employers of more than 15 employees to provide paid sick leave and employers with fewer employees to provide unpaid sick leave;
- HB 197/SB 485, Peyton’s Bill, named for a student undergoing cancer treatment, which provides grants to public schools to purchase remote technology to allow a student to attend a school virtually;
- SB 710, which requires that school districts give parents the opportunity to consent or refuse consent of a decision to enroll their child in an alternate education program that does not provide credit toward a high school diploma, identify their child for the alternate assessment aligned with the state’s alternate curriculum, or to include restraint or seclusion in the child’s IEP; the school may file a complaint if they disagree with the parents’ decision, but as the complainant, they will have the burden of proof;
- HB 644/SB 180, the Independent Living Tax Credit Act, which creates a tax credit for 50% of the cost of renovating a home for the purpose of making it more accessible for people with disabilities; and
- HB 1061, the James W. Hubbard Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program, which provides competitive grants to state colleges and universities for creating pilot programs for inclusive higher education programs for students with I/DD.
The Arc Pennsylvania has released its budget and policy priorities for the legislative session including:
- Enacting new revenue measures to fund a waiting list reduction such as a $2 admission fee at each establishment with slot machines, an additional four cent tax on cigarettes, and an increase in the tax on table games from 12% to 14%;
- Continuing efforts to close the remaining state institutions;
- Improving school climate by expanding Statewide Positive Behavior Supports and ending unnecessary restraint and seclusion;
- Ending organ transplant discrimination; and
- Placing the burden of proof on school district rather than parents in IDEA disputes.
The Arc Massachusetts is advocating for the passage of Nicky’s Law (S 64/H 80), which will create 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.
The Arc Arizona advocated against passage of SB 1406, which narrows the scope and limits remedies under the Arizonans with Disabilities Act. First, it exempts websites from accessibility requirements. Second, it requires that a person alleging a private entity has an inaccessible building, facility, or parking lot in violation of the Act must provide 30-days’ notice and an opportunity to cure before filing a law suit. No other minority group is required to provide notice to a business before suing for a violation of their civil rights. SB 1406 makes no exception for cases in which the inaccessibility has harmful or life-threatening consequences. The bill is in response to one attorney representing one or two clients who has filed thousands of law suits for parking lot violations. These have all been dismissed and the court is now considering penalties against the attorney. Despite the chapter’s advocacy efforts, Governor Doug Ducey recently signed SB 1406.