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Legislation: National - 2011 Archives

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November 21, 2011 - President Obama signed a Bill Offering Tax Credits to Business that Hire Veterans

President Obama said at the signing, "Back in September, I sent Congress a jobs bill. And in it, I proposed a tax credit for any business that hires a veteran who’s been unemployed for at least four weeks. I proposed an even bigger tax break if a business hires a veteran who’s been unemployed for at least six months. And if a business hires an unemployed veteran with a disability related to their service, I proposed doubling the tax break that we already have in place.

Today, because Democrats and Republicans came together, I’m proud to sign those proposals into law. And I urge every business owner out there who’s hiring to hire a veteran right away.

Now, over the past decade, nearly 3 million service members have transitioned back to civilian life, joining millions who have served through the decades. And as we end the war in Iraq and we wind down the war in Afghanistan, over a million more will join them over the next five years. This bill is an important step towards helping those veterans transition into the workforce. And beyond the tax breaks that I mentioned, it also contains a number of other reforms -- from education and training to career counseling, to job search assistance.

We're still going to need to do more. And that’s why I’ve also announced a series of executive actions to help our veterans back to work. We’ve set up a Veteran Gold Card -- this is a card that post-9/11 veterans can download today, and it gives you access to a suite of career services, including six months of personalized counseling at the roughly 3,000 one-stop career centers located across the country.

We’ve launched an easy-to-use online tool called My Next Move that allows veterans to enter information about the skills they've acquired during their service, and then matches that information with the civilian careers that will best put that unique experience to use.

And we’ve created a new online service called Veterans Job Bank, a partnership with leading search engines that directly connects unemployed veterans to job openings. So all of these initiatives are up and running right now and you can find them at whitehouse.gov/vets." To watch the video or read the text of the signing, go to White House transcript.

November 2011 - H.R. 3086: Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011

The practice of paying workers with disabilities less than the Federal minimum wage dates back to the 1930s, when there were virtually no employment opportunities for disabled workers in the mainstream workforce. Now, however, with the advent of vocational rehabilitation and technology, workers with disabiliteis are more qualified to find competetive employment. Despite this, many corporations receive special wage certificates that allow them to pay workers with disabilities sub-minimum wages, under the guise that they are providing rehabilitation and training to prepare these workers for competetive employment. This is exploitation in its purest form. The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011 is poised to change this. While this law is far from being passed, upon it's enacment the Department of Labor would not issue new special wage certificates and revoke existing certificates within one year for private corporations, within 2 years for public or government entities, and within 3 years for non-profit organizations. This bill has just 19 cosponsors. Encourage your representative to support the passages of this bill. For more, visit The Library of Congress: Thomas and search for bill number HR3086.

July 2011 - S.1094/HR.2005 Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011

With bi-partisan backing, both the Senate and House introduced the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011, which will extend important components of the original 2006 Act to ensure continued federal funding for research, services and treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). President Obama promises to sign the bill into law by the end of the year. Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, expressed his satisfaction with the urgency of this effort, saying "bi-partisan support for any legislation today is rare, and reflects our elected leaders’ understanding of the severity of the challenges we face.”

The 2006 Combating Autism Act brought many advances to the world of Autism research, resulting in:

  • Improved incidence tracking by the CDC
  • Identification of several autism susceptibility genes that are leading to drug discovery and earlier detection of infants at risk for ASD
  • Improved methods for autism screening and recommendation for universal autism screening at well baby check-ups
  • Development of effective early intervention methods for toddlers with autism
  • Development of standards of care for medical and behavioral health, clinician guidelines and training, and new treatments for commonly associated medical conditions, such as sleep and gastrointestinal disorders

    July 2011 - S.1403 - Senate bill calls for full funding of IDEA

    Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), along with 13 of his Democratic colleagues, has introduced a bill in the Senate that calls for the Federal Government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Despite its promise to cover 40 percent of the costs, the Federal Government currently only covers 16.1 percent; leaving the remaining financial burden with the states. At a time when many local school districts are facing drastic cuts, this bill will provide much needed relief while helping districts fulfill the promise of a quality education for their students with disabilities. Harkin proposes that the additional costs be covered by an increase in cigarette tax. At this time, there are no Republican co-sponsors. If you would like to see full funding of the IDEA, contact your senator and encourage him/her to sign on as a co-sponsor. For more on the bill, visit Library of Congress: Thomas and search for bill S1403.

    July 2011 - Legislation to strengthen career and independent living programs

    The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) has been working with legislators over the past several years on the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). After much planning and coordination, the Senate has introduced a bill for the reauthorization of these Acts. The bill will provide solutions to problems that have nagged Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) for years. In particular, the bill:

  • Calls for the creation of an Independent Living Association (ILA), within the Department of Education
  • Adds transitioning people with disabilities from nursing homes and other institutions to home and community-based residences to the roster of Core Services provided by CILs
  • Requires one–stop centers to be physically and programmatically accessible for people with all types of disabilities.

    For more, read the press release issued by the National Council on Independent Living.

    June 2011 Advocacy Alert! DAWN offers the following about legislation on capping Medicaid

    Medicaid is still in danger! Efforts by some Members of Congress to turn Medicaid into a block grant program or to cap the amount of federal funding are continuing. In light of the federal fiscal crisis, these efforts have become serious and are gaining traction. Medicaid block grants or caps would especially threaten home- and community-based services. More than 66% of the federal Medicaid budget is used for long-term care services, including nursing homes and community-based services. Nursing home services, however, are an entitlement under current law; home and community-based services are not entitlements. Block grants or caps on federal Medicaid funding would essentially have the same effects. States could make their own rules about eligibility and services. With a federal cap on funding, states would have the choice of either using more state money or cutting services as costs increase as people age and need services.

    The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities is voicing this message to all Wisconsin representatives and senators: Do not block grant or cap federal Medicaid funding.

    Contact your U.S. Representative and Senators to let them know what you want by calling toll free at 1-888-876-6242. Let them know how Medicaid is important to you! Or use the links above to contact your U.S. Legislators.

    May 2011 Action Alert! The ARC offers an article on the most important items in the Affordable Care Act that are before the U.S. House of Representatives for a repeal vote

    The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill to remove funding for health care items that are mandated under the new Affordable Care Act. The ARC organization outlines the items in the Affordable Care Act that are most important to people with disabilities such as the prohibition on insurance companies to exclude people with previous health conditions, in the following article: Provisions in the Health Care Reform Law that are Most Important for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

    Contact your U.S. Representative and let them know what are most important to you.

    May 2011 Action Alert! The ARC Offers an Action Alert page that will help you Tell Your Senators to Oppose Medicaid Block Grants or Caps

    See the ARC's Action Alert: How Important is Medicaid to You! This article outlines what the U.S. House of Representatives has voted on concerning Medicaid in the U.S. Budget and offers a "Call Now" Page to call your U.S. Senator today to ask them to:

    May 2011 - Action Alert! Tell Your Senators to Oppose Medicaid Block Grants or Caps

    The United States Senate will soon consider the Federal Budget Proposal, which recently passed the House of Representatives. Your immediate advocacy efforts are needed.

    The following is an excerpt from an action alert issued by Center for Disability Rights.

    The recent budget proposal passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would seriously undermine Medicaid, cutting the program by a total of $772 billion from the current funding level. That's a 35 percent reduction. In addition, the proposal would cap the reduced amount of funding as a block grant. While block grants are described as giving states "flexibility", it really means that states will have no accountability for their Medicaid programs...Too many states have already demonstrated that they will bow to local pressure from institutional facilities, and ignore the Supreme Court affirmed civil rights of Americans to choose to receive long term services in their homes and community. Additional flexibility is NOT the answer.

    If enacted, States would have to implement additional cuts or provide additional state funding to make up for the lost federal funds. States are faced with significant budget shortfalls now, so it is clear that this approach would mean that states would eliminate Medicaid services, cap enrollment, and impose high premiums and co-payments for Medicaid beneficiaries.

    The battle over cuts to Medicaid is likely to involve a series of critical decisions and votes. Medicaid pays for vital health care as well as services and supports for people with disabilities. It's important that we let Congress know that we oppose block granting and cutting Medicaid.

    Take Action!

    April 15, 2011 - U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the GOP Budget Plan

    The GOP plan is not actual legislation, but a resolution to have a blueprint to budget government spending. DAWN released a summary of the plan and what it would mean for people with disabilities.

    Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin has proposed a federal budget resolution that could have significant impact on people with disabilities. The resolution is a guide for how Congress should put together the budget. It is not the final budget, but it is still very important because it provides direction to Congress.

    Some features include:

    Medicaid: Cuts $1.4 trillion over 10 years, reducing federal support about 33% and shifting costs to low-income consumers, including many people with disabilities. The proposed plan converts Medicaid to a block grant which will cap funding regardless of how much health care costs increase with inflation.

    Medicare: Replaces Medicare with a voucher program, shifting service costs to the beneficiaries, almost doubling the amount that individuals pay out of pocket for their ongoing health care.

    Health Care Reform: Repeals and defunds the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama.

    Discretionary Programs (includes funding for the DAWN network): Eliminates most federal government programs outside of health care, Social Security, and defense over time as the cuts are so deep.

    Taxes: Over the course of 10 years, the $4.3 trillion from all of these cuts will be used to provide $4.2 trillion in tax cuts to upper-income individuals and corporations.

    What does this mean for people with disabilities? There would be no guarantee of services. People with disabilities could be denied:

    States could return to the use of institutions to save money. This would be cheaper under the Ryan plan since state institutions will no longer have to meet the quality standards currently imposed by the Medicaid program. Also, waiting lists for home- and community-based services could grow much longer. Click here to see how your representative voted.

    If you want to voice your opinion about this plan to your Congressional Representative, call toll free at 1-866-922-4970 (TTY 202-225-1904) and ask for your Representative's office.

    April 13, 2011 - DAWN releases National Budget Proposal's Compared - President Obama's vs. Representative Paul Ryan's

    DAWN of Wisconsin released the following comparison of the National Budget Proposals. In a speech on Wednesday, April 13, President Barack Obama outlined his budget priorities. Pres. Obama’s proposal and Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposal are compared below:

    Obama: Preserve program as it is now but reduce funding by $100 billion over the next 10 years by finding efficiencies.
    Ryan: Turn into a block grant program, providing a lump sum of federal money to states, and reduce funding by $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.

    Obama: Preserve program as it is now but reduce growth in funding by using Medicare’s purchasing power to reduce drug and other costs.
    Ryan: Turn into a voucher system where people would get an as-yet-undetermined amount of money to buy private health insurance.

    Domestic Discretionary Spending:
    This spending includes funding for IDEA, developmental disabilities councils such as the WI-BPDD, protection and advocacy agencies such as Disability Rights Wisconsin, supported employment, supportive housing, Head Start, transportation, community health centers, and much more.
    Obama: Reduce funding by $600 billion over the next 10 years, including $400 billion already identified in 2012 budget proposal.
    Ryan: Reduce funding by $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years, eliminating almost all programs.

    Military Spending:
    Obama: Reduce funding by $400 billion over next 12 years.
    Ryan: Funding is the same as in Pres. Obama’s 2012 budget proposal.

    Obama: Eliminate some tax breaks, increase taxes on wealthy individuals, and limit itemized deductions for millionaires and billionaires.
    Ryan: Provide $4.2 trillion in tax cuts to corporations and upper-income individuals over the next 10 years, but eliminate some tax breaks.

    To voice your opinions on these proposals, contact your US Representative toll free at 1-866-922-4970 (TTY 202-225-1904) or the White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

    April 2011 - U.S. House of Representative Paul Ryan will hold scheduled listening sessions with people from the first district of Wisconsin about the U.S. budget plan

    U.S. Rep. Ryan will hold listening sessions with people from his district about the U.S. budget plan and other issues. Rep. Ryan is Chair of the House Budget Committee. He is proposing a budget resolution that would have a significant impact on people with disabilities and people with low incomes. Some of the features of the plan include:

    These listening sessions give you an opportunity to provide Rep. Ryan with your feedback about his budget plan. For more details about the plan go to: http://www.capwiz.com/thearc/callalert/index.tt?alertid=40802501&type=CO

    The following listening sessions have been scheduled or go to the complete schedule at http://paulryan.house.gov/UploadedFiles/April2011LSschedule.pdf

    Thursday, April 28 9:45-10:45 am Village Hall 123 N. River St. Waterford

    Friday, April 29 10:30-11:30 am Liberty Hall at Veterans Terrace 589 Milwaukee St. Burlington

    Friday, April 29 1-2 pm Community St. Bank 1500 Main St. Union Grove

    Friday, April 29 2:15-3:15 pm Village Hall 2801 89th St. Sturtevant

    Friday, April 29 3:45-5:00 pm Gateway Technical College Racine Building Room 116 901 Pershing Dr. (use parking lot D) Racine

    Action Alert! - March 4, 2011 - National Council on Disability releases report titled Rising Expectations: The Developmental Disabilities Act Revisited. ADD will continue to receive testimonies through Friday, March 4th

    National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency, released a report titled, Rising Expectations: The Developmental Disabilities Act Revisited, in which it recommends to Congress changes to develop a more uniform national policy that will support the goals of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) and improve the programs the (DD Act) law created. For more information, visit this article by the National Council on Disability through the PR Newswire. Federal Agency Calls for Elevated Role of Small Office Within U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Creating Developmental Disabilities Policy ADD will continue to accept online testimonies on the Envisioning the Future website through Friday, March 4th. This is an important opportunity to help inform and influence ADD as it prepares its strategic plan, and the Obama Administration as it considers future funding and budget priorities. It is vitally important that people with disabilities, family members, friends and allies submit testimony to ADD.

    The website for submitting your testimony is: http://www.envision2010.net/comment_submit.php

    ADD will accept submissions of any length. Please refer to this site for examples http://www.envision2010.net/others.php

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