This week in Springfield committees begin meeting. We are waiting for bill numbers for many the bills we are supporting as the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) that writes the language is behind. However, there are scheduled committee hearings this week with bills posted to the committees. We will see whether they will be heard:
Minimum Wage continues to be a hot topic. A lot of rumors are swirling around the minimum wage bill proposal. It was leaked that the governor wants $15 across the state with no regional difference with a $1 increase Jan 1 2020 from $8.25, 75 cent increase July 1, 2020 and another $1 increase Jan 1 2021 and $1 increases each year through 2025. There continues to be a lot of politics around the timeline and how it would be implemented. We are hearing that the governor’s office is concerned about the human services sector and making sure that the state keeps its commitment to human services. Although we are still hearing there is a push to pass before the budget address in February.
Dental Anesthesia Coverage Bills – There are two bills SB 111 and HB 273 with have been assigned to the Senate and House Insurance Committees respectively. SB 111 raises the age that an insurer is required to cover dental anesthesia from 18 to 26 and HB 273 eliminates an age limit.
CILA Yearly Licensing Bill – Representative Mary Flowers has put forward a CILA regulatory bill HB 178, which would require renewing licenses every year. Since this regulation was updated last year already, we are unsure what she is planning for this bill.
Wage Bill for DSPs – SB1184 (still waiting for the House bill number) which would ensure that with changes to the minimum wage, direct support professionals and other front line staff wages would stay above the minimum wage to be able to address the staffing crisis that continues to affect people with disabilities. You can sign up to receive updates from They Deserve More at www.theydeservemore.com.
State of the Union Tomorrow
President Trump will deliver the State of the Union address tonight at 9pm ET. C-SPAN will have coverage available on this page starting 8pm ET that day, for those watching online. The Arc will be listening for an mention of Medicaid block grants, per-capita caps or other proposals that would limit access to Medicaid, other ideas about healthcare reform, payment reform or disability rights issues as well as workforce issues such as the overtime rule. The Democratic rebuttal will follow and be offered by Stacy Abrams, 2018 candidate for Georgia governor.
Congress: House Education and Labor Committee Leadership Announced
Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) will serve as Chair of the full committee and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will serve as Ranking Member. Additionally, the following will serve as Subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members, respectively:
- Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education: Delegate Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI) and Representative Rick Allen (R-GA)
- Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions: Representatives Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Tim Walberg (R-MI)
- Higher Education and Workforce Investment: Representatives Susan A. Davis (D-CA) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)
- Workforce Protections: Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL)
- Civil Rights and Human Resources: Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and James Comer (R-KY)
A full list of members can be found on the committee website.
Education: Senators Introduce School Voucher Bill
On January 16, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and 10 other Senators introduced the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act (CHOICE) Act. The CHOICE Act amends the Scholarship for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act, which provides private school vouchers for low-income students in the District of Columbia; allows Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds to follow a student parentally placed in a private school using a voucher or tax credit scholarship; and establishes a pilot program for providing school vouchers to military families. The Arc opposes these programs because schools participating in them are not required to follow the IDEA or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.
Income Support: Workers Speak Out on Disability and Health: New Report on Paid Family Leave and the Disability Angle
The Arc and the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have releasedDisability Perspectives on Paid Leave: A Qualitative Analysis of Leave-taking Among Workers Affected by Disabilities or Serious Health Conditions. This ground-breaking research examines how workers with disabilities and working caregivers of people with disabilities use, need, and benefit from paid family and medical leave. It is one of the only studies to specifically explore whether current paid and unpaid leave policies and programs meet the needs of the disability community. Findings offer key insights on how existing leave policies can become more disability-inclusive and highlight the need for a comprehensive, national paid leave policy. Read the full report at www.thearc.org/paidleavestudy.
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