The Baltimore Sun published an editorial discussing the sale of the Rosewood Center, a former state institution, to Stevenson University for $1 along with an agreement to pay $16 million to help cover the costs of cleaning up environmental contamination. The Arc Maryland has sought commitments from Stevenson University to provide scholarships for student with I/DD in conjunction with a new state program, adopt a curriculum to train graduates to work in the I/DD field, and provide employment opportunities for people with I/DD. The editorial states “The developmentally disabled community has waited far too long already for the kinds of opportunities the Arc is proposing.”
The Arc California is supporting SB 354, which requires school districts to translate IEPs and other communications with students and parents to their primary language. The bill passed the California Senate 30-6 and is pending in the Assembly Committee on Education.
The finalized budget for the State of Maryland contains many victories for The Arc Maryland including:
- A 3.5% waiver rate increase to cover the cost of compliance with the Minimum Wage Act of 2014;
- Funding for 789 individuals with I/DD aging out of the school system to receive employment and other day services;
- Waiver slots for the Crisis Resolution category, or the 101 individuals with the most urgent needs;
- Reducing the Family/Individual Support Capped Waiver and Community Support Capped Waiver Waiting lists by 400 each;
- The use of the Waiting List Equity Fund derived from the sale of state institutions and deinstitutionalizing to fund waivers for 36 individuals with priority given to those with the oldest caregivers;
- Community Services for 26 individuals with I/DD involved in the court system;
- $250,000 for inclusive higher education programs for students with I/DD;
- 100 new Autism Waiver slots; and
- A $3.7 million increase for pre-kindergarten education.
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.
As a result of The Arc Maryland’s advocacy, the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council is partnering with the University of Maryland to expand capacity and improve quality of post-secondary education for students with intellectual disability. This partnership will be funded by a $250,000 line item in the Developmental Disabilities Administration budget and a $25,000 grant from the Think College National Coordinating Center. When recommending this initiative to the Maryland General Assembly, Governor Larry Hogan said “Our administration is committed to ensuring all Marylanders have the opportunity to live, work, and thrive in our state. Providing options for students with intellectual disabilities to continue their education with the goal of employment is essential to their future and our vision.”
As Governor Doug Ducey and legislature finalize the state budget, The Arc Arizona is seeking a $2 million increase in the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP). AzEIP provides services to infants and toddlers with significant developmental delays and disabilities. These evidence-based services at an early age have positive impacts on children and reduce the need for special education services when they reach school age. As many as 4,300 families could lose services without the increased funding.
The Arc California is advocating for passage of AB 45, which provides loans to school districts to construct affordable rental housing for teachers and other school employees. Special education funding was cut significantly during the recession. While funding has been restored, many laid-off special education teachers have retired or moved on to other jobs. This bill was introduced to alleviate the resulting teacher shortage.
The Arc Colorado is having a busy legislative session, supporting twenty-nine bills and opposing five. Highlights include:
- The chapter successfully advocated for the defeat of HB 17-1013, which would have prohibited any state action that burdens a person’s exercise of religion unless it was the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. The bill stated that “exercise of religion” did not include “the ability to act or refuse to act based on race or ethnicity,” but did not include a similar exception for discrimination based on disability or any other protected status.
- The chapter supported HB 17-1001, which would have extended a 2009 law allowing family leave to attend a child’s academic activities but was defeated in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee after passing in the House;
- The chapter supported HB 17-1038, which would have prohibited corporal punishment in public schools, licensed child care centers, family child care homes, and specialized youth group facilities, but was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee after passing in the House;
- The chapter supported HB 17-1046, 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.” This bill was recently signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper; and
- The chapter supported SB 17-024, which clarifies that the hearsay exception for persons with I/DD applies when an individual is being charged under increased penalties for crimes against certain persons with disabilities. This bill passed the Senate Unanimously.
As a result of The Arc Maryland’s advocacy, several bills are moving forward:
- SB 872/HB 971, the James W. Hubbard Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program, passed in both the full Senate and the House Ways and Means Committee;
- HB 1061, which creates a task force to study emergency and evacuation plans for students, staff, and visitors with disabilities in public schools, passed in the House Ways and Means Committee;
- HB 1/SB 230, The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which provides paid family leave, passed the House; and
- SB 1013, which allows the licensure of dental therapists, had a hearing in the Senate Education Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
The Arc New Jersey has advocated for three bills recently signed by Governor Chris Christie:
- A3267/S2519 allows taxpayers to donate to an “Autism Programs Fund,” which will be used exclusively for the support of service-oriented autism programs, through their tax returns;
- A2786/S1474 requires six credits of special education to receive a teaching certificate and an unspecified number of credits of training on students with autism and comprehensive evidence-based instructional practices to address their educational strengths and needs in order receive a special education endorsement;
- A3411/S1830 requires the New Jersey Department of Health to align its regulations on lead exposure with those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additionally, The chapter secured passage in both houses of A3432/S1825, which creates a task force to study and make recommendations on mobility and support service needs of adults with autism. The bill now awaits Governor Christie’s signature.