As a result of advocacy by The Arc Pennsylvania, HB 218, the state budget, which offered the highest level of support for people with disabilities in recent years, passed both houses of the legislature and became law. The budget includes:
- 1000 slots for a new Community Living Waiver capped at $70,000 per person per year;
- 820 Person/Family Directed Supports Waiver slots for special education graduates with ID and/or autism;
- 50 new Adult Autism Waiver slots; and
- Expansion of the Targeted Services Management State Plan to include more than 1,500 people with autism and/or ID on the waiting list.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc California, the elimination of the cap on respite services will take effect January 1, 2018. The cap of 21 days of out-of-home respite care per year or 90 hours of in-home respite care per quarter was put in place in 2009 to help address the budget deficit during the great recession. A measure eliminating the cap was included in the budget bill approved by Governor Jerry Brown. The restoration of respite services will likely help reduce racial disparities in the purchase of services by regional centers because data indicates that families of color tend to utilize respite services at higher rates.
The Arc New Jersey supported and Governor Chris Christie signed Charlie’s Law (A4081/S2662). The law is named after Charlie, the service dog belonging to Ben Shore, a 16-year-old New Jerseyan with autism. He was denied access to a Florida airport because of his service dog. Because refusal of service based on use of a service dog is a criminal offense in Florida, police were able to help him resolve the situation. By contrast, the only recourse in New Jersey was a civil lawsuit. Under Charlie’s law, businesses that deny access to service dog users face a $250 fine for their first violation, $500 for a second violation, and $1000 for the third and succeeding violations.
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 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.
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.
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.
As a result of The Arc Wisconsin’s advocacy efforts, The Madison Common Council approved an ordinance change ending the use of subminimum wage for city employees with disabilities. In a press release from The Arc Wisconsin, Wisconsin Board of People with Developmental Disabilities, and the Madison Mayor’s Office, Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin, stated “This step in recognizing the civil rights of people with disabilities to equal pay sends a strong message. The Arc Wisconsin thanks Madison for once again leading the way.”
The Arc of Illinois supported and Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 420 on August 26. This bill allows the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to exempt certain wheelchair parts from the prior approval process and to set reimbursement rates of wheelchairs, wheelchair parts and accessories, and relating seating and positioning items at levels that ensure the availability of these devices. Additionally, it requires durable medical equipment providers to be accredited within 15 months of passage of the legislation.
The Arc of Illinois strongly opposed SB 2610, signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on August 25. This bill creates a new license for providers who operate Community Integrated Living Arrangements, campus group homes, skilled nursing facilities, and employment and training opportunities positioned at a central geographic campus. Providers with this license will be allowed to transfer individuals from integrated settings to segregated ones at their discretion. The Arc of Illinois opposed this bill given that it is not compliant with the federal Home and Community Based Settings rule and runs counter to the goal of community integration.