Education – Senate May Begin Debate on ESEA This Week
The Senate may take up the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) of 2015 (S. 1177) as soon
as this week. The ECAA renews the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also
known as the No Child Left Behind Act) and provides greater autonomy to states. The Arc
supports numerous provision in the bill, such as the 1% cap on the number of students
with the most significant cognitive disabilities who can take an Alternative Assessment based
on Alternative Achievement Standards (AA-AAS); ensuring that students who take an AA-
AAS will not be prevented from earning a regular diploma; and requiring school systems to
describe their plans for limiting the use of restraint and seclusion. However, The Arc remains
particularly concerned about the bill’s limited accountability provisions. Presently, the ECAA
only requires intervention and support for schools that fail to meet state performance
standards overall, rather than for schools where any subgroups of students (including those
with disabilities) fail to meet those standards. Stay tuned for an action alert.
Major Events Last Week
ABLE Act – The IRS Publishes Proposed Regulations for the ABLE Act
On June 19, the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations for implementation
of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. These proposed regulations,
titled Guidance Under Section 529A: Qualified ABLE Programs, were published in the
Federal Register on June 22 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-06-22/pdf/2015-15280.pdf).
Public comments are due on September 21, 2015. The IRS also announced a public hearing
scheduled for October 14, 2015.
The proposed regulations address numerous issues, including the following: the relationship
of a person with signature authority and the designated beneficiary of the account;
qualifications for eligibility; status of an ABLE account when person is no longer disabled;
limits on contributions to the account; potential penalties; and qualified expenses. The Arc
and other advocates will be analyzing the proposed regulations in preparation for submitting
Social Security – House Holds Hearing on Social Security Disability Earnings Reports
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security
held a hearing on the Social Security Administration’s management of earnings reports from
disability beneficiaries trying to go back to work. Witnesses were David A. Weaver, Associate
Commissioner, Office of Research, Demonstration and Employment Support, Social Security
Administration, and Daniel Bertoni, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security,
Government Accountability Office. Visit the Committee web site to view testimony.
Budget & Appropriations – House Subcommittee Passes Spending Bill for the
Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education,
and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) approved its Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill on an
8-4 party line vote. Funding for these agencies is reduced by 2.5% overall with cuts mostly
targeted on the Affordable Care Act, family planning, and the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality. Disability-related programs were largely level funded, and one
received a sizable increase – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to
states. The IDEA state grant would receive an increase of 4.3% over the 2015 funding
level, bringing the federal share of the additional cost of providing special education from
16% to 17%. A detailed funding chart will be provided when more detailed line item funding
is made available by the committee. The full House Appropriations Committee markup is
scheduled for tomorrow and the Senate L-HHS-ED Subcommittee will take up their bill later
Employment – The Arc Submits Comments on WIOA
Recently, The Arc submitted comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law in July of 2014. The
Arc supported numerous provisions in the regulations and proposed modifications to
several of the key definitions and other provisions in the regulation. The comments are
consistent with The Arc’s Employment position statement and our public policy agenda.
For more information about WIOA and some of the key changes impacting people who
have I/DD, please see the National Policy Matters on WIOA.
Medicaid – Home and Community Based Services Bill Introduced in the Senate
Last week, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), together with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), introduced S. 1604, Transition to Independence Medicaid Buy-
In Option, bipartisan legislation which would, as stated in Senator Grassley’s press release,
“create a demonstration project to encourage states to improve opportunities for individuals
with disabilities to obtain employment in the community, gaining self-determination,
independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion.” Ten states, over a period of
five years, would receive bonus payments for meeting benchmarks which are outlined in
the bill’s technical summary.
The LEAD Center Hosts Third Installment of a Webinar Series Titled “WIOA From a
On Wednesday, June 24, 2015 from 3:00 – 4:30 PM (ET), the LEAD Center will host
another installment of its four-part webinar entitled WIOA from a Disability Perspective.
Part 3, “Understanding Changes Regarding Youth Services”, will cover cross-system
collaboration and WIOA opportunities to support career counseling, skills training, job
exploration, leadership development, and financial literacy education for youth with and
This is the third of a four-part webinar series. After registering for this webinar, be sure to
view the previous webinar’s archive and register for the remaining webinar in the series.
Part One Archive – WIOA from a Disability Perspective: An Overview
Part Two Archive – WIOA and the Unified State Planning Process
Part Four: September 24, 2015 – Section 188, the Nondiscrimination Provisions of WIOA
Register for this webinar by clicking or copying and pasting the following link:
This webinar will be captioned and a link to download the presentation will be sent to
registrants prior to the webinar. To request any other reasonable accommodations,
please contact Brittany Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org within 48 hours of the webinar.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423