Important disability issues from The Arc in this week’s Capitol Insider from The Arc of the United States. As you read this I will be heading to the Capitol. 


Capitol Insider
for the Week of March 5, 2012
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Major Events Last Week
Education – No Child Left Behind
Twenty-seven additional states submitted requests to the Department of Education for waivers from provisions of No Child Left Behind. The states are: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and D.C. The applications and the names of the peer reviewers who will meet next month to review them will be posted on the Department’s website soon. The remaining states will have a third opportunity to requests waivers. The deadline for round three is September 6. To assist the 27 states in designing their waiver requests, the Department developed a summary of issues and recommendations noted by peer reviewers during the first round of applications. To read the document, go to and click on Considerations to Strengthen State Requests.
Housing – The Fair Housing Act
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Bank of America with discriminating against homebuyers with disabilities who rely on disability payments by imposing unnecessary and burdensome requirements for loan applications. HUD also charged Bank of America with requiring some borrowers with disabilities to provide physician statements. Both actions could be violations of the Fair Housing Act. HUD referred the action, based in part on complaints from individuals in Michigan and Wisconsin, to the Department of Justice.
Civil Rights – Americans with Disabilities Act
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided information in response to an inquiry about students who are not able to earn a high school diploma due to their disability and cannot obtain jobs. In an informal discussion letter, which is not an official opinion, EEOC said:
. . . if an employer adopts a high school diploma requirement for a job, and that requirement “screens out” an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the Americans with Disabilities Act’s definition of “disability,” the employer may not apply the standard unless it can demonstrate that the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity. The employer will not be able to make this showing, for example, if the functions in question can easily be performed by someone who does not have a diploma.    
In cases where a diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity, the employer may still have to determine whether the applicant whose disability prevents her/him from earning a diploma can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without accommodations. EEOC developed a Q&A document about high school diploma requirements to augment its informal discussion letter.
Long Term Services and Supports – Olmstead / Balancing Incentive Program
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded New Hampshire with the first Balancing Incentive Program (BIP) grant to rebalance long term services and supports funding, a provision of the health care reform law.  NH will receive $26.5 million over three years in the form of increased federal matching payments.  Under the BIP, states must expand home and community based services and supports while reducing the amount spent on institutional services.  A total of $3 billion is available from CMS until September 30, 2015 for other states that are interested.  To be eligible, states must be spending less than 50% of total Medicaid long-term services and supports funds on community based options.  CMS currently is reviewing a proposal from Maryland.  The BIP is one of several programs authorized by the health care reform law designed to address the inherent institutional bias in Medicaid.
Major Events Ahead
Transportation – Senate to Vote on Transportation Extension
The Senate is expected to vote this week on a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill.  This bill would extend the highway and transit programs authorized by the surface transportation bill.  The current temporary extension is set to expire March 31, 2012.  The House is still trying to find a compromise over the funding levels that would garner enough support to pass a bill. 
Direct Support Workers – House to hold hearing on Companion Care
On March 7th the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections will hold a hearing on “Ensuring Regulations Protect Access to Affordable and Quality Companion Care.”     Visit the Committee web site for the hearing announcement and live video.
The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation – Public Policy Fellowship Program 2012-2013
The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation is seeking exemplary professionals and/or family members of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are currently working or volunteering in the field of inclusive services and supports for people with I/DD for an intensive one-year Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, DC. The purpose of the Fellowship is to prepare both early career and more seasoned leaders to assume leadership in the public policy arena in their home state and/or nationally. During this one year Fellowship, the successful applicant will learn how federal legislation is initiated, developed, and passed by the Congress, as well as how programs are administered and regulations promulgated by federal agencies.  
The successful applicant’s background will include distinguished involvement in efforts to improve the lives of persons with I/DD at the regional, state or national level.   The expectation is that fellows will become future leaders in the field of inclusive community supports for people with I/DD.   After their year in Washington, it is expected that former Kennedy Fellows will make significant contributions to policy and program development in their home state or continue to advance their work on the national level.   The program provides a one-year full-time exposure to the federal public policy making process, and includes a stipend and modest relocation expenses.   Selected fellows must be prepared to live in the Washington, DC area during their fellowship year and to devote themselves full-time to the fellowship.  
The application deadline for 2012-2013 is March 31, 2012 by 5:00 pm EDT.   The Foundation fellowship(s) will be awarded for the period July, 2012-June 30, 2013, though consideration may be given to those who wish to start later in the year or early in 2013. To read more download this PDF.
Education – Department of Education Update Regarding Development of a New State Monitoring System
The Department of Education announced that it will spend this year working closely with stakeholders to develop a new state monitoring system to determine how well students with disabilities are doing in school.  In the past, the annual reviews have focused on procedural requirements rather than student outcomes.  The visits scheduled for the 2012-13 school year will not be carried out; however, the department will review states’ annual performance reports.

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)