Monday, August 31, 2009

NCGA: Legislative Update - The Arc of NC Legislative Agenda Wrap Up

This week we will be reviewing several key bills that were passed during this legislative session.  The Arc of North Carolina presented a very robust and comprehensive legislative agenda to our legislators.  With the work of many leaders, our policy platforms were recognized and many of the bills we worked on became laws. This week we are going to highlight the first three of these new laws.

So today we start with

House Bill 673/Session Law 2009-186: Support for Developmental Disability Services-Earle.

This legislation will create a statewide data collection system that will reflect how many people with developmental disabilities are currently waiting for services and what services they are waiting for. The bill also permits the Department to ensure that State-funded developmental disability services are authorized on an annual or semi-annual basis depending on the services, and will also give direction to the Department to develop developmental disability service definitions that allow for funding of a person-centered plan.

This bill was also debated with many of the committee members stating that a statewide data collection system will present to the legislature any gaps in services that may need legislation.

-HB 673 includes many of the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine Study on Developmental Disabilities. The Institute of Medicine Study on Developmental Disabilities was legislated by the General Assembly during the 2008 short session.

-This bill will re-establish a standardized waiting list for people with developmental disabilities who are seeking services. This wait list will provide the necessary data collection to be used by the state and members of the General Assembly to effectively serve people with developmental disabilities.

The waiting list will collect data for people with developmental disabilities who may qualify for the following targeted services
a. Waiting for residential services.
b. Potentially eligible for CAP-MRDD.
c. In need of other State-funded services and supports for people with developmental disabilities.

-This bill directs the Secretary of DHHS to develop and adopt rules governing a statewide data system that will be used to for statewide planning.

This bill was voted on and passed out of committee with a favorable report.

Vote History: The bill passed the House (112 in favor 0 opposed) and the Senate (48 in favor and 0 opposed). The governor signed this bill into law on June 29, 2009.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Arc of NC Mourns The Loss of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy

The Arc of North Carolina joins with The Arc of the United States to express our deepest gratitude and most sincere sympathy at the passing of a champion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Senator Ted Kennedy.

Senator Ted Kennedy worked tirelessly for the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of life.  His passion and determination to make our nation a model of civil rights, equality in education and equality in health care for people with disabilities will be missed deeply.

The Arc Mourns the Loss of its Greatest Legislative Champion
The Arc Mourns the Loss of its Greatest Legislative Champion

The Arc of the United States and all children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families lost its all time legislative champion with the death last night of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). His legislative achievements in the field of disability were many and far reaching. Civil rights, education and health care were the cornerstones of his efforts to help all Americans live decent and productive lives. In the rights arena, his most notable achievement was the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. He played an instrumental role in the passage of Public Law 94-142 in 1975 (now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) which gave every student with a disability the right to a free appropriate public education. Senator Kennedy was one of four Members of Congress who, along with former President George W. Bush, crafted the No Child Left Behind Act. He was instrumental in assuring that all students with disabilities would be part of the student achievement assessments under this law. Last year, he co-authored the Higher Education Opportunity Act which, for the first time in Federal law, will afford higher education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. Other major civil rights accomplishments that helped people with disabilities enter the mainstream of our society include the Fair Housing Act and the Voting Rights Act.

As a steady voice for comprehensive, quality and affordable health care reform, Senator Kennedy pushed hard over his decades of Senate service to expand the National Institutes of Health, created programs to protect pregnant women and children, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the recently enacted Medicare prescription drug expansion. As many have observed, his absence from the Senate this year has significantly hindered the passage of health care reform.

In his role as a member, Ranking Minority Member, and Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he authored the Developmental Disabilities Act, established Protection and Advocacy Systems in every state, and oversaw several extensions of the Rehabilitation Act, including the addition of Supported Employment and steady increases in the minimum wage.

Senator Kennedy was first elected in 1962 and served six terms. He ranks third in total service in the U. S. Senate. He was often referred to as the “Lion of the Senate.” A consummate deal maker, many of his legislative successes were due to his ability to reach across the aisle and secure bipartisan support, sometimes with the most conservative of Senators. He was an electrifying orator, his booming voice resounding off the walls of the Senate chamber. Senator Kennedy did his homework, always exceptionally well prepared for his Committee hearings, bill markups and floor speeches. He was often noted as having the best and most loyal staff on Capitol Hill.

Senator Kennedy often described his interest in disability policy due to his family history. Late in life, his father suffered from a serious stroke. His sister Rosemary was born with an intellectual disability and was sheltered during her adulthood in a private institution. His sister Eunice, who died only two weeks ago, headed up the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and created the Special Olympics. The Senator’s two sons also experience disability. Ted Jr. lost a leg to cancer as a child. Patrick, a U. S. Congressman from Rhode Island, has a mental illness.

Senator Kennedy spoke at several events sponsored by The Arc, most notably the Disability Policy Seminar. In 2001, he was the recipient of The Arc’s John H. Chafee Leadership in Public Policy Award. Last month, The Arc’s President, Lynne Cleveland, announced that Senator Kennedy would be this year’s President’s Award recipient. This award will now be given posthumously at an event in the near future.

August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

We Are Back From Vacation

The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog has been taking a much needed vacation.  The 2009 Session of the General Assembly is over. Tomorrow we will be posting a legislative review of policy that was included on The Arc of North Carolina's legislative agenda.

During this session break we will also be updating you on study committee activities and on how the budget cuts are affecting people with developmental disabilities and those who work with them.

Thanks for reading the blog during this session, we appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NCGA: State Budget Update for Wednesday

Both the House and the Senate will take up the budget again today. This will be the last vote on the budget. 

We will be posting a full analysis of the cuts to HHS later this week.  Until then we suggest reading this article by WRAL on the budget and Governor Perdue's comments regarding the budget.  The Governor has stated she will sign the budget with "serious reservations".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NCGA: State Budget Update The Vote and Devastating Changes to HHS

Today the House and Senate are voting right now on the state budget.  In a last minute turn of events, House and Senate Appropriation chairs choose cut $40 million dollars from state funded services for people receiving services in Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.  

This was an extremely unexpected cut, not only to advocates monitoring the budget but also to the HHS Appropriation Chairs.

Just last week advocates had been told that the original cut of $50 million dollars would reduced to a $10 million dollar cut. 

As of this evening, the Senate passed has voted 27 Yes to 17 No to pass the budget. The Senate will vote for the third time on the budget tomorrow. The House, as of 5:00pm are continuing to debate the budget.

This cut of $40 million dollars in state funded services will be devastating to a community based system of care. You will not find in the budget equally as severe cuts to state institutions.

We will send updates when they become available.

Monday, August 3, 2009

NCGA: State Budget Update

WRAL and other news outlets are reporting that there will be a budget roll out tonight. On Friday, we started receiving updates from the General Assembly that the House and Senate Appropriation chairs were nearing the end of negotiations on the finance package and the budget.

By late Friday evening we had a tentative deal. There are still rumors that Governor Perdue may not be happy with everything in the finance package or the way class sizes are being managed.

We will be in the building later today and will update you when more details become available.

Until then we invite you to check out this story: WRAL.