Legislative Updates

Education

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will mark up two Republican bills to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) on Tuesday.  The Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990) would dramatically limit the federal role in education by eliminating a number of requirements in NCLB, including those that have led to increased inclusion and academic gains for students with disabilities.  AUCD signed onto a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities opposing both bills.  AUCD has asked its University Centers in those states represented on the Committee to send letters educating their Representatives about the impact the bills would have on students with disabilities.  You can watch the markup live on theCommittee's website.

Health Care Reform
In early February, the Access Board, in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration, announced Proposed Accessibility Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment for public comment.  Required by the Affordable Care Act, the proposed standards address access for people with disabilities to examination tables and chairs (including provisions on transfer devices such as supports rails, and lifts), weight scales, and other equipment used for purposes of medical diagnosis.  The deadline forcomment submissions is June 8.  A public hearing on the standards will be held at the Access Board Conference Room in Washington, DC on March 14.  For more information, including details of the hearing and instructions on submitting comments,click here.

Long-Term Services & Supports: Presidential Candidate Survey
Every day, over 10 million seniors, people with disabilities, and their families struggle to find and pay for long-term services and supports, and the need for care is expected to grow to over 15 million Americans by 2020.  Yet the issue of long-term care has been completely absent from this year's presidential campaign and only two candidates-Barack Obama and Newt Gingrich- have responded to a national survey on their views to address this growing national challenge.  To help raise this critical issue among the presidential candidates, 15 national aging and disability organizations, including AUCD, invited each candidate to answer five questions about their views on long-term care.  The five questions and responses received to date are available atwww.ncoa.org/LTSSsurvey.

Transportation
On February 23, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the American Association of People with Disabilities held a briefing on Equity in Transportation for People with Disabilities.  The discussion focused on the history of the accessibility movement, its shortcomings in the area of transportation, paratransit and its alternatives (i.e. accessible taxis), as well as the critical role transportation plays in all aspects of an individual's life (including housing, employment, education, social activities, and healthcare).  According to the Association of Programs on Rural Independent Living, more than half a million people with disabilities never leave home because of they have no access to transportation.  To address this disconnect, the panel called for increased congressional action, including prioritizing reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs.  The current transportation law, the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Act  (PL 109-59, SAFETEA-LU), expires on March 31, 2012, and has been operating by way of extensions since September 2009.  This law is important to disability advocates because it also funds the New Freedom Program to support new public transportation services and alternatives beyond those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Currently, reauthorization bills in both the Senate and House are under debate.  The panel also emphasized the need for increased oversight of ADA requirements (including Amtrak's accessibility initiative), access to private transportation alternatives to mass transit, and support of initiatives such as Easter Seals' Project ACTION that offer consumer-led training for paratransit officers and operators.

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.  For issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website.