Last week was an extremely busy one in the Capitol. Here are some of the bills we were working on:
HB 5927 (Rose) would invalidate DHS’ rule about the required distance between two CILAs. The sponsor says this is a violation of the Fair Housing Act. I do not think he is correct. The bill also requires DHS to develop a plan for Ligas. This is already available and he was told this at the hearing and how to access it. He says he’ll work with us and his main objectives are to build community capacity by using existing ICF-DDs and convert them into smaller facilities, and two give people an opportunity to live in their own community. The bill is on 2nd reading and the sponsor agreed to hold while he discusses with us and DDD.
SB 3564 (Forby) would essentially give the General Assembly final say-so on facilities closures by allowing the G.A., by joint resolution, to either approve or reject a COGFA recommendation and bind the Administration to that joint resolution. The bill is on 2nd Reading in the Senate with 3 co-sponsors. It is clearly motivated by the proposed closure of Murray and AFSCME influence.
HB 5290 (Cassidy) would require school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies, including policies that protect students with disabilities, among others. The bill, as amended, is currently on 2nd reading in the House and additional language is being negotiated with school management groups.
HB 5076 (Gabel) would allow a parent of a student with disabilities to get copies of any documents a school district files in response to a parent’s formal complaint to the State Board of Ed. (Currently the parent is required to do a FOIA request to get those documents). It would also allow a parent to invoke the “stay-put” provisions of IDEA and the School Code to maintain the child’s then-current placement by filing either for Mediation or a State Complaint (currently only a request for a due process hearing will maintain the child’s placement if the district has proposed a change). The bill will be re-referred to Rules, but we continue to negotiate with the State Board and hope to reach agreement and then find another bill to use.
SB 3773 (Sandoval) would make non-profits that receive State funding “public bodies” under the Freedom of Information Act, thereby subjecting them to requests from the public under the Act. The Arc strongly opposes. The bill remains in the Senate Executive Committee with an extended deadline. The sponsor was instructed by the committee to reach out to the many opponents and work out an amendment before he brings the bill back to committee. The sponsor cited “waste, fraud and abuse” in his testimony.
These are the major bills we slipped last week. There are probably a few more.
Also, the Illinois Department of Human Services will have their appropriation hearings on the following dates.
Senate: March 21st, Time and Location TBD
House: April 19th, 8:00 AM, D-1 Stratton Building in Springfield.
BRIDGET BROWN: Steve Connors sends us this great news about the woman pictured above in the header, Bridget Brown! Tony – I’m not sure if you were aware of this, but last week a group of us (10) went to Washington DC to advocate with National Down Syndrome Society as a part of their “Buddy Walk on Washington”. During our trip Bridget Brown received the Self Advocate of the year award!
We met with both Senators offices, as well as Representatives Biggert, Roskam, Schock, and Dold. We discussed with them issues facing the Down syndrome community including research funding, ESEA reauthorization, the ABLE act and the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.
We had 3 self advocates with us leading the majority of our conversations. Bridget (as you know) is amazing and her award was recognized by all. In fact last week Representative Judy Biggert addressed the house floor with a statement congratulating her! We watched it on c-span and it’s on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dHgrHJzprk
We know the issues facing us here in IL are most important, but our visit to DC was eye opening.
I thought you would want to hear about this to congratulate Bridget.
ELECTION DAY: On Tuesday, March 20th, Equip for Equality will have advocates available by telephone to answer questions for individuals with disabilities who may encounter problems on Election Day. Here is a link to the HELPLINE.