Capitol Insider
for the Week of July 30, 2012 
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Action Alert
Help Protect Disability Programs – Call to End Tax Cuts for the Top 2 Percent Call Your Representative Today
Important Survey from the Disability and Abuse Project of Spectrum Institute: Please share this important survey with your network so that professionals in our field can learn more about how to prevent abuse and provide for the needs of victims.
Major Events Last Week
Budget/Tax – Senate passes the Middle Class Tax Cut Act
The Senate passed S. 3412, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, on July 25 by a vote of 51 to 48. The bill provides a one year extension of the tax cuts originally enacted in 2001 and 2003 for households earning under $250,000. The Arc supports this bill to help ensure that revenue is raised fairly to pay for critical disability services and supports. Allowing the tax cuts to expire for households making over $250,000 a year (the top 2% of earners) would generate about $1 trillion. This funding is greatly needed to help protect important disability programs (like Medicaid, Social Security, housing, education, and employment) from deep cuts and to reduce the deficit.
Prevention – Toxic Chemicals reform bill passed by Senate Committee
On July 25, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847) sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). This was the first official action by a Congressional Committee to address the problem of chemical exposures in 36 years since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently has limited authority to fully protect the public from toxic chemicals, many of which are linked to developmental problems, neurological deficits, cancer, and impaired fertility. The previous day, on July 24, the full Committee and the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health held a joint hearing entitled, “Oversight of EPA Authorities and Actions to Control Exposures to Toxic Chemicals.” Visit the EPW website to view the webcast. The Arc supports the Safe Chemicals Act. Learn more at Safer Chemicals, Healthier Communities, a diverse coalition of organizations of which The Arc is a member.

Social Security – The Arc’s Marty Ford Testifies at Hearing on Use of Technology and SSI

Last week the House Committee on Ways and Means, Human Resources Subcommittee held a hearing on the use of technology to improve the administration of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The Arc’s Marty Ford testified on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Social Security Task Force. Her testimony emphasized the importance of using technology in ways that simplify the SSI program and make it easier for people to apply for benefits, navigate the redetermination process, and report on income and assets. Her testimony notes that technology can pose challenges for some people with disabilities, making it important for the Social Security Administration to continue to provide information in writing and in other accessible ways. Finally, her testimony calls for other improvements to SSI including increasing the income and asset limits. Visit the Committee web site to read all the witnesses’ testimony and for archived video.

Social Security – Hearing on Overlap of SSDI and Unemployment Benefits Postponed
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has postponed its hearing on “Double Dipping: Assessing Overlap Between Disability and Unemployment Benefits,” originally scheduled for this week. The Subcommittee has not yet announced a new hearing date.

Civil Rights – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Supports Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Last week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution of advice and consent to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, Treaty Doc. 112-7) by a bipartisan vote of 13 to 6. The Committee adopted three amendments: one stating that nothing in the CRPD addresses any particular health program or procedure, a second stating that current U.S. law “fulfills or exceeds the obligations of the convention,” and a third stating that a new Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities formed under the CRPD “has no authority to compel actions by state parties.” Visit the Committee web site to view video of the vote. The Committee vote paves the way for consideration of the Treaty by the full Senate, which will require 67 votes for ratification. The Arc continues to work with numerous other disability advocacy groups to garner support for ratifying the treaty.

Major Events Ahead
Budget/Tax – House to vote on the Middle Class Tax Cut Act

The House is scheduled to take up S. 3412, with a vote expected as early as Wednesday. See action alert above.

Housing – Senate to Hold Hearing on Streamlining and Strengthening HUD’s Rental Housing Assistance Programs

On Wednesday August 1st the Senate Committee on Banking, Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development will hold a hearing on “Streamlining and Strengthening HUD’s Rental Housing Assistance Programs.” Visit the Committee web site for the hearing announcement and video on the day of the hearing.


Schedule for Capitol Insider

The United States Senate and the House of Representatives will be in recess from August 6 – September 10 for district work periods and the national political party conventions. While both chambers are out of session there may be little to report, so during this time Capitol Insider will be sent out as needed.

Self-advocates – are you going to vote? Tell us your story

This election year, The Arc has been on a mission to highlight the importance of voting to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), their families, and everyone who supports our issues through the “We’ve Got the Power” campaign.

Now we want to hear from self-advocates about their experience getting involved in our democratic process. Are you registered to vote? Have you experienced any obstacles to registering, or accessing information about the election process in your community? Are you excited to vote? Is this your first time? Why is it important for you as a self-advocate to participate in the election?

If you are a self-advocate with a story to share, or know someone whom we could talk to, please contact Kristen McKiernan or Sarah Bal.
Budget – Report details effects of across-the-board cuts on non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs

On July 25, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a detailed analysis of the impact of sequestration on dozens of health, education, and labor programs in 2013. The report includes state level information on funding reductions, service reductions, and lost jobs. The calculations are based on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimated 7.8% reduction for NDD programs. The cuts are scheduled to take effect under the Budget Control Act in January of 2013 unless Congress changes the law. The report includes estimates for special education grants to states, preschool State Grants, and grants for infants and families. See:
Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services

Housing – HUD Extends Deadline for States to Apply for Section 811 PRAD Funding

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has extended the deadline for states to submit applications to receive funding for the new the Project Rental Assistance Demonstration (PRA Demo) Program of Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities to August 7th. HUD has updated the application package to reflect this new deadline. The date is the only change. If a state has already submitted, there is no need to do anything else.
Housing – HUD FY 2013 Budget Stakeholder Call

On Thursday August 2nd the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will host a call for state, local and national HUD stakeholders regarding HUD’s FY 2013 budget. HUD officials on the call will include Peter Kovar, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Jonathan Harwitz, Deputy Chief of Staff for Budget and Francey L. Youngberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement. This will be an opportunity for you to hear about legislative developments and share your feedback. Please RSVP by August 1, noon at the HUD website.

Employment – Webinar on Accessible Technology & Employment of People with Cognitive and Developmental Disabilities

On Thursday, August 2nd the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) will offer a live webinar on Accessible Technology’s Impact on the Employment of People with Cognitive and Developmental Disabilities. Presenters will address the current state of accessible technology for people with cognitive and developmental disabilities, as well as provide examples of the current and future use of these technologies in the workplace. Visit ODEP’s web site to learn more.

Employment / Rights – OPM Releases Report on Federal Employment of People with Disabilities

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released its annual Report on the Employment of Individuals with Disabilities in the Federal Executive Branch. OPM found that total permanent Federal employment for people with disabilities increased from 187,313 in FY 2010 to 204,189 by the end of FY 2011, an increase from 10.7 to 11 percent of the Federal workforce. New hires who were people with disabilities totaled 18,738, an increase from 10.3 percent in FY 2010 to 14.7 percent in FY 2011.

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)