The Arc Washington and The Arc King County joined other disability organizations in filing an amicus brief in the case McCleary v. Washington. In this case, the Supreme Court of Washington ruled that the statewide school funding scheme was inadequate and in violation of the state constitution. The court imposed a $100,000/day fine on the state until the state develops an adequate funding scheme. The state is now seeking to lift that sanction. The Arc’s amicus brief explains that the state is still in violation of its constitution because it limits the percentage of students receiving special education services for whom a district can receive enhanced funding and, therefore, discriminates against students in districts with an above-average proportion of students receiving special education services. The full brief can be found here.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proclaimed September 10-16 DSP Recognition Week. The Arc Massachusetts welcomes this proclamation and used the opportunity to raise awareness about the 40% turnover and the need for higher wages for DSPs.
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.
Ellen Baudler, Director of Housing Access for The Arc Minnesota, has been meeting with members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to advocate for affordable housing for people with I/DD. She attended the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ “Coffee with Congress” event to discuss housing policy with Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer. Additionally, she joined members of the Protect Our Homes coalition in a meeting with Fifth District Congressman Keith Ellison. Congress is considering massive cuts to housing and it must pass a budget by the end of September.
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.
The Massachusetts Senate hosted a heath care discussion at the state house in preparation for upcoming health care cost containment legislation. The discussion involved a panel on long term supports and services for people with disabilities that included Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director of The Arc Massachusetts. The Arc Massachusetts is pleased that the State Senate is considering long term supports and services in its discussion of future health care legislation.
The Arc New Jersey is in the process of publishing its annual “Get Out the Vote” Guide. The Guide will include information about candidates for Governor and 120 legislative seats. Gubernatorial candidates are being asked to share their stances on DSP wages and Medicaid issues. The Guide will also include information about finding you polling location, registering to vote, and seeking accommodations.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc California, a legislative committee ordered an audit of the state’s enforcement of hate crimes. The audit will consist of a survey of more than 240 local and state law enforcement agencies, and a more detailed review of four local agencies (a city police department, a county sheriff’s office, a university police department, and a jail).
The Arc California held a rally at the state Capitol in support of AB 279, which increases Medicaid reimbursement rates for wages of DSPs in cities with a minimum wage higher than the state’s. Over 500 marchers were in attendance. Legislators who spoke at the rally include Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland). The Senate appropriation committee did not approve AB 279, but advocates are optimistic because of the number of legislators who participated in the rally.
Advocates from The Arc Connecticut participated in a furlough day rally at the state capitol to protest the lack of a budget for community services for people with I/DD. Attendees included self-advocates, parents, and a bi-partisan group of state legislators. Pictures from the rally can be found on the Chapter’s Facebook page.