Capitol Insider

for the week of September 15, 2014

Recent Major Events

Education – The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act Introduced in the Senate

On September 10, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S.2790, the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Fairness Restoration Act.  This legislation would
ensure parents who successfully challenge a school district under IDEA can recoup
costs for psychologists, behavior specialists, physicians and other experts they engage
in order to bring their case.  Currently, families can challenge schools if they do not
believe that their child is being provided a free and appropriate education (FAPE) under
the law. While attorney’s fe es can be recovered by whichever party prevails, a 2006
U.S. Supreme Court decision determined that costs for expert witnesses cannot.  The
IDEA Fairness Restoration Act would remedy this problem by overriding the Supreme
Court’s decision and restoring IDEA’s original intent, allowing prevailing parents to
recover expert fees just like prevailing plaintiffs in the Americans with Disabilities Act,
Title VII, and other civil rights laws.

Social Security – Senate Confirms Nominees to Social Security Advisory Board

Last week, the Senate confirmed three nominees to the Social Security Advisory Board
(SSAB). The SSAB is an independent, bipartisan board created by Congress and
appointed by the President and the Congress to advise the President, the Congress,
and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters related to Social Security and
Supplemental Security Income. Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution will Chair the
Board; his term goes through 2020. Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institution and Stanford
University will serve as a member for a term ending in 2018 and Alan Cohen of the
Center for American Progress will serve as a member for a term ending in 2016. With
the addition of these three new members, the Board now has full membership for the
first time since 2008.

Long Term Services and Supports – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Offering a New Toolkit

To assist states as they implement the final Home and Community-Based Services
(HCBS) rule released in January of this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
(CMS) created the Statewide Transition Plan Toolkit for Alignment with the HCBS
Final Regulation’s Settings Requirements
.  This document provides information on
the content and process of the transition plan requirements.  The Arc, together with
other advocates has made recommendations to improve implementation of the

Autism – Autism CARES Signed by President Obama

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES)
Act of 2014 was signed into law on August 8, 2014 by President Obama.  This
bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi
(R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), reauthorizes
the Combating Autism Act of 2011 for an additional five years and makes a number of
improvements to it.  Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has significantly
advanced the science and practice in the disability field by increasing the number,
scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and
professional training efforts.  This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of
infants screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an increase in the proportion of
children diagnosed by the age of three, and continu ing improvements to decrease the
time between diagnosis and intervention.  The new law continues these efforts and
makes the following improvements – a name change that uses more respectful
language, a designated ASD position in the Department of Health and Human
Services to oversee the law’s implementation, increased representation of self-
advocates and family members on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
(IACC), and requiring a report on the needs of transitioning youth.  For more
information on the accomplishments of the prior legislation see, “Report to Congress
on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental
Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and Combating Autism
Reauthorization Act of 2011 (FY 2010-FY 2012)”.

Major Events Ahead

Poverty – Senate HELP Committee to Hold Hearing on Overcoming Persistent
Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities

On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
(HELP) will hold a hearing on “Overcoming Persistent Barriers to Economic Self-
Sufficiency for People with Disabilities. Visit the Committee web site for more
information, including testimony and live video the day of the hearing.

Budget & Appropriations – House Expected to Take up Short Term Spending

According to press reports, the House of Representatives will likely vote this week
on a short term spending bill for FY 2015 which starts on October 1.  This would
leave the Senate little to no opportunity to make changes and send it back before
the House leaves for election recess.  Most programs are expected to receive level
funding in this continuing resolution (CR) that would run through mid-December.
This would be the 4th consecutive year of erosion in non-defense discretionary (NDD)
spending (which included disability-related programs such as education, housing,
and employment) when factoring in the cost of inflation.  See recent disability-related
discretionary funding levels here


Marchand Internship – Application for Spring 2015 Session Due on October 1,

The Paul Marchand Internship Fund will provide $3,000 per semester or summer
session to assist interns interested in pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for
people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  See Application
 and Internship FAQs for more information.  For 38 years, Paul Marchand
was a dedicated disability policy advocate and recognized leader working on behalf
of people I/DD and the larger disability community. Upon his retirement in 2011, The
Arc, with substantial contributions from United Cerebral Palsy, other organizations,
and individuals with whom Paul worked during his decades in Washington,
established an internship to honor Paul and to continue to cultivate disability policy

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)