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 Wisconsin is advocating for passage of LRB 0753, the Employment First bill, which makes competitive integrated employment a priority for state agencies that provide employment services to people with disabilities. The bill requires the Department of Workforce Development to collaborate with the department of Public Instruction and Health Services and other agencies to develop a plan to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities.
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 California Legislative Assembly has wrapped up its regular 2017 session. The following are the final results for The Arc California’s priority bills:
- AB 1161, which requires local law enforcement agencies to develop hate crime policies passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and had a hearing in the Appropriations Committee, but no further action was taken;
- AB 973, which requires counties to permit voters with disabilities to use a remote accessible vote by mail system was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown; and
- AB 1111, which creates a grant program for providing services to individuals with barriers to employment so that they can participate in training and education programs was signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
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 Pennsylvania signed onto a letter in opposition to HB 1717. This bill creates redirects an amount equal to 90% of the average per-student state funding in a school district into an “individual empowerment scholarship account” for each student whose parents enroll them in a private school. Eligible students include students with disabilities, student in low-performing districts, and children of service members on active duty or killed in the line of duty. Schools accepting these funds are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race or national origin, but not on the basis of religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or even disability. Furthermore, participating non-public schools will not be required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Thus, this program drains funds from public schools and directs them toward private schools where students with disabilities are not guaranteed an appropriate education or freedom from discrimination.
The Arc Pennsylvania is advocating for passage of SB 888, which allows police to impose a summary offense and increases fine on drivers who illegally park in disabled parking spaces or access aisles. SB 888 passed the Pennsylvania Senate and has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.
Representatives from The Arc New Jersey met separately with staff from the gubernatorial campaigns of Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and former Ambassador Phil Murphy. They discussed issues important to I/DD community including the shift to a fee-for-service for Medicaid, DSP wage increases, and the importance of community integration. These meetings gave the chapter an opportunity to educate the candidates about the issues and the chapter ahead of election day.