Friday, December 28, 2007

Election 2008

The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog will be following both state and national election updates. To get us started we have added two new features to this blog. The first is a Presidential Election Countdown and the second is the calendar for both the North Carolina Primary and General Election. Both of these additions can be found by scrolling down the left hand side of this page. We will also be doing special Julia's Musings on policy platforms for the candiates running for President and for Governor. We encourage you to participate fully in the electoral process.

North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities Meeting Schedule for 2008 Announced.

The North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities will meet on the following dates during 2008.
February 7-8, May 15-16, August 7-8 and November 12-14. The February, May and August meeting will be held at the North Raleigh Hilton. We will update the meeting site for November once it is announced.

Notice of Community Forum: Department of Health and Human Services

Notice of Community Forum: Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting a series of community forums on an expansion to the Aging and Disability Resource Connections Initiative. This initiative provides information for people seeking long-term services. The community forums will take place across the state. For more information please contact Jim Jones at 1-919-733-9190.

Thursday, January 17, 2008
8:30am Holiday Inn Guilford Convention Center, I-85 at Lee Street, Greensboro.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
8:30 a.m. Kiwanis Recreation center, Honeycutt Park, 352 Devers St., Fayetteville.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
8:30 a.m. Onslow County Government Complex, 4022 Richlands Highway, Jacksonville.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
8:30 a.m. Copperfield Room, 270 Copperfield Blvd., Concord. Thursday, February 21, 2008
8:30 a.m. Macedonia Christian Church, 7640 U.S. Highway 17, Williamston.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
8:30 a.m. North Carolina Association of Educators, 700 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
8:30 a.m. Haywood County Administration Building, 81 Elmwood Way, Waynesville.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
8:30 a.m. Northwest AHEC of Watauga Medical center, 336 Deerfield Rd., Boone.

Special Thanks to The Insider.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Legislative Update: National Housing Budget HUD Funding

HUD FY08 Appropriation Passes Congress; Awaiting President’s Signature
On December 19, the House and Senate passed a $555 billion omnibus spending bill and sent it to President Bush for his signature. If signed, the bill would end the long standoff between Congressional Democrats and the President on domestic spending priorities and funding for the war in Iraq. The President has until December 31, when the current continuing resolution ends, to sign the bill.

The bill provides funding for most domestic programs, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but reduces the total program funding from the levels provided in the individual House and Senate passed appropriation bills to the levels set in the President’s budget. It also provides $70 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The President and the Democratic Congress have been at odds over funding levels for domestic programs since January. Initially, the House and Senate approved domestic spending legislation that was $22 billion over the President’s request. The President threatened to veto this legislation. The size of the Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate make it difficult to obtain the two-thirds majority required to override a veto. Consequently, the Democratic leadership proposed to “split the difference” and cut $11 billion from the proposed levels in an effort to obtain Republican support. When the President again threatened to veto any legislation that exceeded his spending requests, the Democrats, unable to garner enough Republican support to override the promised veto, agreed to the President’s overall spending levels. But many of the President’s priorities were cut in order to fund some of the Democrats’ spending priorities, including the funding of housing programs. (See Memo, 11/16, 9/14 and 7/27).

The HUD provisions of the omnibus bill, which are similar to those of the Transportation, HUD and Related Agencies conference report, H. Report 110-446, continue to provide modest yet critical funding increases for many programs. The report also includes important policy guidance on a range of HUD programs. The details of funding levels for various programs can be found at The discussion below highlights most of the significant differences between the omnibus bill and the conference report.

The omnibus bill provides $14.685 billion for Housing Choice Voucher renewals. While less than provided in the conference report, this amount should be sufficient to renew all vouchers in use in FY07. The omnibus bill does provide for renewals to be based on the most recent federal fiscal year data available, with exceptions to the distribution formula for public housing agencies (PHAs) that went into receivership within the previous 24 months, overspent their FY07 allocation or were impacted by the 2005 hurricanes.

PHAs in receivership or that overspent their 2007 allocation will receive funding in calendar year 2008 equal to what they received in calendar year 2007. PHAs impacted by the 2005 hurricanes will receive funding for the calendar year 2008 equal to the greater of the amount provided using the most recent federal fiscal year data or the amount received in calendar year 2007. The bill also reduces the renewal amounts for agencies with large unspent voucher reserves by amounts in excess of 7% of the amount of renewal funding allocated to the agency for the calendar 2007 funding cycle. This functionally shifts funds from retention for future needs to addressing current priorities, such as renewals and the funding of the first new incremental vouchers since FY02.
The funding levels provided in the omnibus bill for the HOME, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and HOPE VI are also below those provided in the conference report. In the omnibus bill, HOME is funded at $1.629 billon, $73 million less than the conference report. CDBG is funded at $3.6 billion, $130 less than the conference report. The omnibus bill provides $100 million for HOPE VI, $20 million less than the conference report.

The President is expected to sign the omnibus bill.

SPECIAL THANKS: National Low Income Housing Coalition

Budget Update: Waiting on the President's Signature

Before the Holiday break, Congress was able to get an omnibus budget bill to President Bush's desk. The President has until Monday, December 31, 2007 to sign the bill. Until then the government is operating under a Continuing Resolution.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

Election 2008
Primary 2008:
January 3, 2008.
We are eight days away from the Iowa Primary. After almost a year of Presidential campaigning it is time for the primaries to begin. We have sat through multiple debates and now it is time to see how the people of Iowa feel about the candidates.

National Election Information:
The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog will be following the Presidential Primary and posting information on this website. Next week will begin a series of Julia's Musings that looks at the health policies of the Presidential candidates and how people with disabilities are included or not included in their health care platforms.

North Carolina
Our General Assembly will return to committee meetings starting Thursday, January 3, 2008.

House Special Committee:
Thursday, January 3, 2008.
10:00am HSC to Investigate Alleged Misconduct and Other Matters Included in Indictments Against Representative Thomas Wright. 544 LOB

Friday, January 4, 2008.
12:00pm 21st Century Transportation Committee-Intermodal Committee-Burlington, North Carolina.


Congress is in recess. The House of Representatives will return on January 15 and the Senate returns on January 22.

FY 2008 Appropriations
The House and Senate wrapped up their work on H.R. 2764, the omnibus spending bill that provides funding for the remaining 11 spending bills that Congress had not yet passed this year. H.R. 2764 passed the Senate by a vote of 76-17 on December 18. The next day the House voted, 272-142, to send President Bush a $555 billion year-end spending bill. The bill includes $70 billion for the war added by the Senate and less spending on domestic programs than hoped for by the Democratic majority.

While a few disability programs received small increases, others were level-funded or received small cuts. Detailed information on appropriations for disability programs will be provided in the upcoming issue of Washington Watch.

President Bush is expected to sign the omnibus spending bill but has until Dec. 31 to do so. Congress cleared a continuing resolution Wednesday (H J Res 72) that will keep the government funded through that date.

Following many weeks of tense negotiations, Congress approved the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (S. 2499). This legislation includes:
§ A six month 0.5% increase in Medicare physician reimbursements, averting a 10% decrease scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2208;
§ A six month (until June 30, 2008) moratorium on the proposed Medicaid rehab option and school based services/transportation regulations;
§ An extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 31, 2009 that provides sufficient funding to avoid funding shortfalls in 2008; and
§ An extension of the current exceptions process for Medicare’s cap on outpatient rehabilitation therapy services (i.e. physical, occupational and speech therapies) through June 30, 2008.

President Bush is expected to sign S. 2499.

Special Thanks to DPC for the Federal Update.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Break: Enjoy the Season!!!

The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog wishes everyone a Happy Holiday! We will not be publishing on Monday December 24th or Tuesday December 25th but fear not we will be back on December 26th.

Julia's Musings: Dear Santa All I Want for Christmas Is....

The last time I wrote a letter to Santa I was 8 years old. It worked out really well, I asked for a bike and I received a bike. With that in mind I thought I would give it a go here and see what happens.

Dear Santa,
I have been working really hard this year along with many other advocates who want to see a society where health care, education, and housing opportunities are equitable for all people. If you could find it in your heart to help us out with some Holiday wishes that would be wonderful. Here is the list Santa.

*Real SCHIP reauthorization (not simply an extension of current funding) that would cover children who do not have health insurance. All children deserve an opportunity to have a healthy start to their lives. That way they can jump on you lap and tell you what they want for Christmas.
*ADA Reauthorization would be a real treat. We still have two Senators in our state who have not signed on to this important legislation. The American’s with Disabilities Act was a major victory in the Disability Rights Movement. It is time we restore the intent of this civil rights legislation so that it will secure equity for many generations to come.
*More affordable and accessible housing options in North Carolina and the nation. Everyone deserves a place to hang those Christmas stockings and put out some milk and cookies for you St. Nick. Of course that means more stops to make but hey you can handle it.
*More reliable and accessible transportation options for people with disabilities. That way we can do Holiday shopping at more stores and share the Holiday spirit with our friends and families.
*Passage of the College Affordability Act. We need to ensure that our teens have a way to access the opportunity to a higher education. This means we need student loan options and more accessible campuses. We also need grants to states so they can design programs for students with cognitive disabilities in our community college systems.
*And last but not least, we would really appreciate it if you could bring Holiday joy to everyone.

I have put out some cookies and milk and will be expecting you soon. Say hi to the reindeer.

Hugs and Jingle Bells,

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seasons Greetings and Thank You!!

As the year comes to an end we would like to extend a special thank you to all of the organizations that have worked with The Arc of North Carolina during the past session to make real change in North Carolina.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Your time, passion, and dedication to issues that affect people with developmental and cognitive disabilities and their families is much appreciated. We could not have had the successes we had this year without each and every one of you!

The Autism Society of North Carolina
NASW-North Carolina
Covenant with North Carolina’s Children
Action for Children
NC Policy Watch
Alliance of Disability Advocates-CIL
UCP-Easter Seals
The Coalition
NC Fair Share
Democracy North Carolina
Common Cause North Carolina
North Carolina PTA
The Psychological Association of North Carolina
The Psychiatric Association of North Carolina
NC Justice Center

And many, many, many more.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Medicare Bill Passes the Senate

The Senate passed the Medicare bill last night. The House is expected to pass the bill today. This bill does include the CMA moratorium language and it does include an extension on current SCHIP funding through March of 2009. During the earlier discussion around Medicare there was a provision that would have eliminated Medicare’s initial purchase option for power wheelchairs. For many people with mobility disabilities power wheelchairs mean the difference between staying at home or having a option to fully participated in their communities. Power wheelchairs often are extremely specialized to fit the needs of the user. The Medicare legislation that passed last evening did not include this provision. This is a major victory for the disability community. Medicaid physician reimbursements will be a on the Congressional agenda again next year and we will need to monitor it closely to ensure that there are no changes to the power wheelchair provision.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NEWS: Silver Alert Program Introduced Today

SILVER ALERT: North Carolina plans to introduce a program today aimed at helping law enforcement agencies find adults with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other cognitive disabilities who have been reported missing. The Silver Alert was modeled after the well-known Amber Alert program used to notify the media and flash messages on road signs whenever a child is reported missing or abducted. The program follows passage this summer of a state law empowering law enforcement officials and the N.C. Center for Missing Persons to begin issuing a public alert as soon as a person with dementia or some other cognitive impairment is reported missing. The alerts will trigger statewide broadcasts of missing-person reports to law enforcement agencies, and information on missing elderly persons will be distributed to the news media. Unlike the Amber Alert system, though, Silver Alerts will not be broadcast on the emergency alert system, which transmits a tone signal to televisio! n and radio stations indicating that an emergency message will follow.
(Lorenzo Perez, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 12/19/07) (Insider)

SCHIP Update

Last week President Bush again vetoed SCHIP. This was his second veto of this legislation.
We received news today that SCHIP will receive a funding extension through March 2009. This funding extension will be set at the current 2007 rates so we will not see an increase in funding for the program. How this will affect the previous deficit reported on this blog and what this means to the implementation of NC Kid's Care, legislation that was passed during this last session to insure children not currently covered by SCHIP, has yet to be seen. We will keep you informed as we learn more.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for this Week

Tuesday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for this Week

North Carolina:
Tuesday, December 18th, 2007
House Select Committee to Investigate Alleged Misconduct and other Matters Included in Inditments Against Representative Thomas Wright. 4:00pm 544 LOB.
As we head into the Holiday break, committee meetings at the General Assembly are slowing down. That said one important meeting will be held this week. The House Select Committee will meet on Tuesday, December 18th at 4:00pm to consider the charges against Representative Thomas Wright. The House will be reviewing the possibility of expelling Representative Wright. The last time the General Assembly expelled a seated member was in 1880.


FY 2008 Appropriations

Congressional leaders worked through the weekend to finalize a compromise omnibus appropriations bill to consolidate the remaining 11 appropriation bills for FY 2008. The House passed this omnibus appropriations bill on Tuesday evening. It did include funding for the war in Afghanistan but not for the war in Iraq. The Senate has received this bill and will most likely add additional funds for the war in Iraq or make the funding flexible to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The House will then receive this bill back and most likely it will pass with the Senate changes. The House will then vote on the final bill (which will be identical to the Senate-passed bill to avoid the conference process) on Friday. It is expected to include earmarks, small increases for some disability programs, and small cuts for others.

The compromise omnibus bill contains funding for the following select programs of interest to the disability community:

*Special Education: The Special education grants to states will receive a $259 million increase above FY 2007.

*Vocational Rehabilitation - Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants will receive the mandatory cost of living increase of $36 million.

*Social Security – Funds will be increased to administer the Social Security Administration, known as the Limitation on Administrative Expenses (LAE). The compromise bill sets the LAE figure at $9.918 billion. This would be an increase of over $451 million over the amounts appropriated for FY 2007. The increase is critical to allow the Social Security Administration to address the crisis of backlogs in making decisions on disability cases. As regularly reported in the press, people are losing their homes and families, and some people even die, while waiting for a decision on a claim in the Social Security appeals process.

*Housing - The omnibus bill restores President Bush's $112 million cut to the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program, providing level funding of $237 million. In addition, $30 million is provided for new Section 8 vouchers targeted to non-elderly persons with disabilities.

National Disability Rights Network provided this chart to us on Monday afternoon. Items in ( ) are a negative.

Program FY 08 Appropriations Difference Between FY08 and FY07
CAP $11.576 million ($206,000)
PAIR $16.201 million ($288,000)
PAIMI $34.880 million + $880,000
PADD $39.024 million + $306,000
PAVA $5.256 million + $426,000
PATBI $2.9475 million ($22,500)
PAAT $4.264 million ($75,820)


Looks like Congress will attempt to address Medicare/Medicaid this year. This Medicare package will include the CMS moratorium language which has been lobbied for by disability advocates. It will also include an extension of current funding for SCHIP (state children’s health insurance plan) until March 2009.

Many health care stakeholders view this bill as the vehicle to make changes to Medicare and Medicaid. The disability community, for example, is seeking to secure a two-year moratorium on proposed Medicaid regulations on the rehab option and school based services/transportation as well as an extension of the exceptions process on Medicare caps on physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

The Medicare bill will be originating in the Senate on Tuesday, December 18, 2007. It will need to get through the Senate with better than 60 votes and then Head to the House.

Special thanks to DPC and National Disability Rights as well as CSPAN and others.

Friday, December 14, 2007

ACTION ALERT: Support Funding for Disability Programs! Call Your Senator and Represenative Today!

The Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill will provide all of the funding for all national disability programs. Plans for this appropriations bill are changing frequently. Congressional leaders are still negotiating the overall funding levels and possible cuts. Many of the current proposals would be harmful to people with disabilities. Congress needs to be reminded that the cuts proposed by the President in supported employment, special education, housing for people with disabilities, and other programs are unacceptable. Help us send a message to Congress that our programs need adequate funding.

The timing on the vote on the Omnibus Appropriations bill is uncertain. It could happen anytime during the next several days.

Take Action:

Call your Senators and Representative.

Calls Thursday, Friday, and Monday (December 13, 14, 17) are essential.

Please use this toll-free number: 1-888-245-0215

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina:

This week two different transportation committees will meet to address the infrastructure needs in our state.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

10:00 am, Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, 1228/1327 LB.
This is the standing Joint Legislative committee on transportation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
1:00pm 21st Century Transportation Committee, 544 LOB.
This is the 24 member panel that was chosen by Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate Pro-Tempore Senator Mark Basnight. This will be the third meeting of this committee. There will also be two subcommittee meetings held on the same day.
At 3:00pm the Transportation Finance Subcommittee will meet in 444 LOB and the Intergovernmental Subcommittee will meet in 415 LOB.
This committee is hoping to present a proposal to address their charge by the start of the short session.

Monday, December 10, 2007
North Carolina Building Code Council-Public Hearing
1:00pm, General Assembly Auditorium , Third Floor Legislative Building.


FY 2008 Appropriations:
Congress is putting together a major spending measure that is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The bill would combine 11 separate spending bills for all federal agencies except for the Department of Defense, in hopes of averting the threat of a shutdown of government agencies. It appears that the Democrats would agree to give the President about $70 billion he has sought in interim financing for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and not calling for a troop withdrawal in exchange for the President accepting about $11 billion in domestic spending that he has opposed. On Saturday, the Administration warned Congress not to go too far with additional spending or the President would veto the bill. Congressional leaders are hoping to vote on an agreement before the continuing resolution that is funding the federal government expires on Friday, December 14, 2007.

The House of Representatives will consider H.R. 3985, the Over-the-Road Bus Transportation Accessibility Act of 2007. This bill clarifies that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can consider Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in determining whether a bus company is fit to operate in interstate commerce. The bill gives the Department of Transportation an extra tool to improve accessibility of the buses by making it a part of the licensing process.

ADA Restoration:
The ADA Restoration Act (H.R.3195 and S. 1881) continues to move forward. The House has added three new cosponsors for a total of 238 and maintained solid bipartisan support. Meanwhile, Senate Leadership staff will meet with members of the Disability Policy Collaboration and other CCD members to prepare for an upcoming push after the break. The DPC continues to meet with Senate and House staff to explain the need to restore Congress’ initial intent for the ADA, dispel concerns raised by opposition, and maintain momentum during what is expected to be a long, uphill battle.

Special thanks to DPC for the federal hot topics.

Announcements North Carolina Policy Events:
The North Carolina Council of Community Programs is hosting it’s two day meeting on Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuses Service Reform in Pinehurst. This meeting will have break out session targeted at specific issues and changes regarding MH/DD/SAS Reform.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Announcement Alert: North Carolina Building Code Council Public Hearing TODAY!

The North Carolina Building Code Council will host a public hearing today at 1:00pm in the auditorium of the General Assembly (third floor of the legislative building). One of the proposals will be to adopt Chapter 11/ANSI and do away with the North Carolina Accessibility Code. Our North Carolina Accessibility Code is certified by the Department of Justice and ADA. We are one of only six states to achieve this certification. It is imperative that we keep the North Carolina Accessibility Code.

Here is what you can do to help:

1. Go to the Public Hearing today and voice your support for the North Carolina Accessibility Code. Please see the Action Alert below this post to get talking points.

2. Write a letter in support of the North Carolina Accessibility Code. Information is also located in the Action Alert.

Help us keep North Carolina a model state on accessibility.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

ACTION ALERT: Take Action Now to Oppose the Elimination of the NC Accessibility Code!

The North Carolina Building Code will be having a public hearing on Monday, December 10, 2007. During this meeting the The North Carolina Building Code Council-Accessibility Code Committee will be proposing that our state stop using the North Carolina Accessibility Code and adopt the ANSI Chapter 11 Code. The North Carolina Accessibility Code is certified by the Department of Justice and meets all federal building guidelines. This code permits our state inspectors to advise contractors on their accessibility requirements.
The removal of North Carolina’s Accessibility Code will have a negative effect on state policy initiatives including Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services Reform, developing more accessible housing opportunities for persons with disabilities in our state, building more accessible schools, and promoting the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our communities because it will cease all NC enforcement authority and require all complaints to be filed at the Federal level.
Filing complaints will be more complicated, take longer, and could allow more building to slip through the cracks.

You can help us stop this change by either:

Attending the NC Building Code Council Hearing on Monday, December 10 in Raleigh.
If you cannot attend, please write a letter to:

Chris Noles, PEEngineering and CodesDeputy Commissioner,

* Howimportant it is for persons with disabilities to have access to hospitals, schools, apartments, public building, parking spots and sidewalks.

*North Carolina’s Accessibility Code is one of the strongest most progressive codes in the nation.

*North Carolina is one of six states to have its Accessibility Code certified by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.

*North Carolina’s Accessibility Code is certified by the Department of Justice.

*Our state Code complies with federal requirements, local building inspectors and the Department of Insurance has the ability to enforce the Accessibility Code.

*The North Carolina Accessibility Code provides a state/local mechanism for people with disabilities the ability to grieve barriers to accessibility on a state level as opposed to taking these grievances to a federal level.

*The North Carolina Accessibility Code covers all construction including; hospitals, schools, apartments, public buildings, parking and curb cuts.

Monday, December 10, 2007 at 1:00pm
General Assembly Auditorium-Third Floor of Legislative Building(walk up red carpeted staircase from front of building)
For a list of other organizations that support our current accessibility code, please click

Thank you for your support in helping us prevent turning back the clock on accessibility in North Carolina.

Have Questions or Need More Information:
Contact Julia Leggett, Policy Coordinator, The Arc of North Carolina or 919-830-5457.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Announcement: Agenda for Today's Joint Legislative Overisght Committee MH/DD/SAS

December 5, 2007, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Room 643, LOB
Representative Verla Insko, Co-Chair, Presiding

Greetings and Introductions 10:00 – 10:15
Representative Verla Insko, Co-Chair
Senator Martin Nesbitt, Co-Chair

Reduction in State Hospital Utilization Pilot 10:15 – 10:45
Mecklenburg LMEs Description of Pilot Plan
Grayce Crockett, Director
Mecklenburg County Area MH DD & SA Authority

Community Support Services Update 10:45 – 11:00
Tom Galligan, Deputy Director for Budget & Finance
Division of Medical Assistance, DHHS

Leza Wainwright, Deputy Director
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Tara Larson, Acting Deputy Director for Clinical Affairs
Division of Medical Assistance, DHHS

2007-2008 LME Service Dollars Allocation 11:00 – 11:20
Review of Special Provision
Andrea Poole, Fiscal Analyst
Fiscal Research Division

Allocation Presentation
Leza Wainwright, Deputy Director
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Revised Allocated Methodology Report 11:20 – Noon
Review of Special Provision
Andrea Poole, Fiscal Analyst
Fiscal Research Division

Presentation of Report
Leza Wainwright, Deputy Director
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Lunch Noon – 1:00

LOC Staff Review of Information Requests 1:00 – 1:15

Revised Dorothea Dix and John Umstead Hospitals Closure Plan 1:15 – 1:45
Mike Moseley, Director
Leza Wainwright, Deputy Director
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Member and Public Comment 1:45 – 2:45

Adjourn 3:00

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Ribbon is Cut and Opening Doors is Officially Open

Emily Bryan, President of the Association of Self Advocates of North Carolina, thanked the guests for attending this event and with the snip of a pair a scissors the ribbon is cut!

Ellen Holliman Expresses the Joy of Today

Ellen Holliman addressed the crowd with these words, "This is truly a most exciting day for all of us. It takes passion to make these things happen. It takes a lot of work and effort. It is not easy and we are thrilled to see the people wo will be living in these apartments".

Live From Durham: We are Opening Doors!!

Nancy Ormond, board member for The Arc of North Carolina, welcomed all in attendance at this important milestone as we open the first four units under the Housing 400 Initiative grants!

Live Blog Event: Opening Doors Supportive Apartments

Today we will be live blogging from the ribbon cutting of Opening Doors Supportive Apartments in Durham.

Legislative Update: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Education

Today was the first meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Education. Topics today included a discussion on NC Wise, a computer system that permits the state to acurately track attendance of students in our schools. This information generates the data for our graduation co-hort rates and drop out information. Having computers available in each of our classrooms also permits students to access online information and research. This is very important in shrinking the digital divide between urban and rural schools. This years budget did not fully fund assistive technology in our schools.
Also we received an overview of the Eckerd Wilderness Camps, part of the Eckerd Youth Aleternatives program. This is a successful model of state organizations teaming with non-profit private organizations to provide a place for high risk children. The Eckerd Wilderness program presented that of the children then serve currently 91% have been suspended, expelled, or placed in an alternative school or dropout prevention program. 34% of the students served are identified as sepcial education students with 15% of these students classified as Emotionally Disturbed. There were obvious question as to how the success of this program can assist with preventing the rising number of drop outs in our state. The obvious answer is that this program addresses not only the educational needs of the student but all the emotional and support needs of the student. They involve the parents in the process. They work with the strengths of the individual student and work to improve on the weakness of the student. It is a comprehensive approach to the total child.
In upcoming meetings this committee will adress access to higher education in our UNC system. Included in this will hopefully be a comprehensive look at disability access to our university system. Nationally there is a 71% drop out rate for students with hearing disabilities in their first year of college. The UNC system is still facing issues regarding both physical access to their buildings as well as issues with providing appropriate accademic supports to students with disabilities. House Bill 1641 Study Disabled Access to UNC Facilities passed the House Committee on Education during this past session and was included in both the House and Senate study bills. The Arc of North Carolina is advocating that HB 1641 be used as a template to study current access at the UNC campuses and that the request for action by UNC comes out of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Education.
Also on the agenda for a future meeting is SL 2007-295 (HB 17) Study Services for Students with Disabilities in High School. This bill was passed by the House and Senate during this most recent legislative session. DPI will be reporting on the progress of this study and will present the results by March 1, 2008. The current 4 year cohort graduation rate for students with disabilities in our state is 49.4%. It is imperative that this number is addressed and that we find a way to graduate more students with disabilities.
The Arc of North Carolina will be following all of the proceedings of this committee.

Announcement: Ribbon Cutting for Opening Doors Supportive Apartments Today

Today in Durham, at 4:00pm, a collaborative of organizations will see their hard work and perseverance pay off.

The Arc of North Carolina, Durham County Community Living Programs, Inc. and the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency are proud to announce the opening of a new collaborative housing project for persons with disabilities. The Arc of North Carolina was awarded grants from the NC Housing Finance Agency’s new Housing 400 Initiative and The Durham Center Housing Development Fund to purchase and renovate four condominium units to provide inclusive, affordable housing for people with disabilities. These four 2-bedroom units are located within existing condominium communities and will be able to serve up to eight people. The units are conveniently located on a bus line and in walking distance to shopping, employment and recreational opportunities. Tenants will hold a lease to their unit and pay rent based on their income. Individualized services will be available through Durham County Community Living Programs and other area agencies. Opening Doors Supportive Apartments is the first of the Housing 400 Initiative-Supportive Housing Development Program grantees to open its doors for people with disabilities to live in a supportive and inclusive housing unit. The Housing 400 Initiative received bi-partisan legislative support in the General Assembly. The 2007-2008 Fiscal budget includes $7.5 million in non recurring funding to finance additional independent and supportive living apartments for people with disabilities. The Arc of North Carolina extends its thanks to the many elected leaders who worked to get this funding into the budget. Dave Richard, Executive Director of The Arc of North Carolina, states “Opening Doors is an excellent example of a collaborative project that incorporates non-profit organizations, state and local funding and a best practice principle to benefit people with disabilities in the most inclusive of settings, their own home in their choice of community”.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week.

North Carolina:

The Joint Education Legislative Oversight Committee will hold its first two meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week December 4 and 5, 2007. This meeting is open to the public and will be held in room 544 LOB.

Wednesday December 5, 2007 will be the next Joint Legislative MH/DD/SAS committee meeting. On the agenda for this meeting will be the following items:
Reduction in State Hospitals Utilization Pilot-Mecklenburg LME
Community Support Services Update
LME Service Dollars Allocation
Revised Allocated Methodology Report
Update on Construction/Repair of State Facilities
Revised Dorothea Dix and John Umstead Hospitals Closure Plan

Monday December 3, 2007 the Children’s Fatality Task Force met to review the progress of the individual subcommittees.

U.S. Congress

Congress has returned to work. There will be at least two to three weeks of session before Christmas and the end of the year. Congress will be working on major policy issues for the disability community. These issues include the Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Appropriations, SCHIP and the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations
As the third month of FY 2008 starts, the Congress and the White House have been able to agree on only one of a dozen FY 2008 appropriations bills (the Department of Defense appropriations bill). The funding showdown between the Congress and the President continues. Thus far, the White House has refused to negotiate compromises since it believes the Congress will be unable to override any of the President’s vetoes of appropriations bills (one override vote has already failed). The House and Senate Democratic leadership has already offered to split the difference between the $23 billion spending impasse, but the White House remains silent on a deal. One possible key to breaking the stalemate would be to link emergency spending for the Iraq war with a huge omnibus appropriations bill. As of today, there is no schedule for specific action on any appropriations bill. Future funding for all disability programs hang on the upcoming decisions.

The Arc of North Carolina:
On Tuesday, December 4, 2007 The Arc of North Carolina will be hosting a ribbon cutting for Opening Doors Supportive Apartments in Durham. Partial funding for these apartment units came from the Housing 400 Initiative/North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

Representative Paul Leubke will be honored by the North Carolina Human rights Coalition at an award ceremony this Thursday, December 6, 2007. Congratulation Representative Leubke.

Announcement: United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Today, Dec. 3, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year's theme focuses on how to ensure decent work for persons with disabilities. The recently adopted United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes that persons with disabilities have a right to work and to be employed on an equal basis with others. The United States have not yet signed on to this UN convention.

*Special thanks to DPC for this information.