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 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 Indiana continues its advocacy as the session moves into its final month. They have been supporting several bills including:
- HB 1001, the biennial budget bill, which passed the Senate with The Arc Indiana’s requested Medicaid Waiver rate increase for DSP salaries;
- SR 44, which would have urged the legislative council committee to study the issue of supported decision making, was pulled due to time constraints;
- SB 15, which establishes a registry for physicians, nurses, individuals, and caregivers for the use of cannabidiol to treat intractable epilepsy, and a pilot registry for physicians who want to study the use of cannabidiol to treat intractable epilepsy, and which has passed both houses and has been returned to the Senate with House amendments; and
- HCR 61, A resolution commemorating the 65th anniversary of ADEC, a Chapter of The Arc in Elkhart County, IN, which passed both houses.
The Arc Tennessee is advocating for passage of SB264, The Supported Decision Making Act. This bill makes supported decision making a legally recognized option for adults with disabilities. Under a supported decision making agreement, an individual with a disability maintains all legal decision-making rights and receives help in making decisions from a trusted person. It is an extension of the “least restrictive alternative” principle that guided the movement from segregation to inclusion in education, housing, and workplaces. More information can be found in The Arc of Tennessee’s action alert.
The Arc of Indiana, through a grant from the National Resource Center for Supported Decision Making and the Administration for Community Living, recently published the report “Supported Decision Making in Indiana: Guardianship, Civil Rights and the Case for a Less Restrictive Environment.”