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It’s Time to Stop Playing Politics. Congress Needs to Pass an Emergency Zika Funding Bill

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Tell Congress: Support Our Caregivers

Major Events Last Week

Employment – Advisory Committee Created Under WIOA Releases Final Report

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) delivered its final report to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on September 15, 2016. The ACICIEID, created by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, was charged with developing recommendations to improve the employment participation rate of individuals with disabilities, including those with the most severe disabilities. The Arc provided testimony to the ACICIEID on several occasions. The ACICIEID’s recommendations center around overall capacity building, capacity building for youth, changes in the use and oversight of Section 14(c) certificates, building capacity in the marketplace, building capacity in federal agencies, and increasing competitive employment in the AbilityOne program. The report was also delivered to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Social Security – Strengthening Social Security Act Introduced in House of Representatives

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and 47 cosponsors have introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2016 (H.R. 5952). The bill includes multiple provisions to enhance Social Security benefits (including Social Security Disability Insurance), to provide a more adequate annual cost-of-living benefit adjustment for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, and to strengthen the Social Security system’s long-term financing. The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. The Arc supports this legislation.

Major Events This Week

Budget & Appropriations/Prevention – FY 2017 Spending Bill May Advance

A procedural vote is scheduled for tonight, September 19, 2016 to move a short-term spending bill through the Senate. The spending bill is intended to fund a number of federal agencies beyond the start of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 on October 1 and avoid a partial government shutdown. These agencies include those that administer the majority of disability-related programs such as education, housing, and employment. Reportedly, negotiations continued over the weekend on the bill language but no final decisions have been announced. The funding amounts are expected to be set at the FY 2016 levels. Major issues to be resolved include the timeframe, parity between defense and non-defense programs, policy riders, and whether other emergency spending is included. However, some progress has been reported on the major sticking point to date in funding for the Zika virus in Puerto Rico – the exclusion of Planned Parenthood from efforts to help combat the virus.

Social Security – House to Hold Hearing on “Understanding Social Security’s Solvency Challenge”

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on “Understanding Social Security’s Solvency Challenge.” Witnesses will include Dr. Keith Hall, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Steve Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration. As stated in the Committee’s announcement “This hearing will focus on the differences between the estimates of Social Security’s finances produced by the Congressional Budget Office and those produced by the Social Security Trustees, as well as what these differences mean for efforts to address Social Security’s solvency.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

Housing – House to Hold Hearing on “The Future of Housing In America”

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing entitled “The Future of Housing In America: A Better Way to Increase Efficiencies For Housing Vouchers and Create Upward Economic Mobility.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.


Education – Report on Private Schools and Equitable Services Released

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new study examining the growth of private school choice programs and their impact on federal funds for eligible students. According to the study, participation in voucher and education savings account (ESA) programs doubled in the past 5 years, from approximately 70,000 students to approximately 140,000 students. Similarly, funding for these programs has also increased, from approximately $400 million to $859 million. Under laws and regulations for two key federal grant programs, public school districts are required to provide equitable services, including special education and related services for students with disabilities, to eligible private school students. However, they do not specifically address providing these services to students in private school choice programs. Education officials in all the surveyed states maintained that vouchers and ESAs complicate their efforts to implement these programs. To resolve the complication, GAO recommended that the Department of Education include quality information to clarify requirements and responsibilities for student funding eligibility. Read GAO’s study here.

Education/Civil Rights – Dept. of Education Releases Report on School Resource Officers

Last week the Department of Education released new resources related to the hiring and training of school resource officers (SROs). These are the latest efforts by the Departments of Education and Justice to reshape school discipline by pushing back against zero-tolerance policies, some of which have led to claims of SROs violating students’ civil rights, including incidents of restraint and seclusion. The resources include guidelines created for local and state policymakers that outline best practices for creating agreements between schools and local law enforcement agencies. Those best practices will now serve as requirements for SROs hired through Department of Justice grants. For hiring and training school police, the Department of Education outlined a list of recommended actions for policymakers including seeking community input when creating agreements with law enforcement agencies, establishing a process for evaluating SROs, and training officers on issues such as child development and the appropriate use of restraint. See the resources here and here.

Miscellaneous – Paul Marchand Internship Application for Spring 2017 Session Due Oct. 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/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). For 38 years, Paul Marchand was a dedicated disability policy advocate and recognized leader working on behalf of people with 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 advocates. See more information here.

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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)