Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Quick Hits: Federal Update for this Week

Federal Update:

As promised we are now ready to give you this weeks Federal update.  We have been waiting for the official vote to happen in the House regarding the economic bailout plan.  The House just voted and the bailout plan was soundly rejected.  Representatives on both side of the aisle expressed serious reservations about this legislation.  With the news of the failure to pass this legislation our of the House, the Dow took a plunge.  Negotiations are happening right now on the Hill to try and get this bill back on track.  

Continuing Resolution:
Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations
Both Houses of Congress passed legislation that would keep most of the federal government operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) until March 6, 2009. Specific appropriations for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs and Military Construction are included in the bill. Virtually all human service programs would be frozen at FY 2008 levels. Further, the CR does not provide additional funding for the administrative costs of the Social Security Administration. This will have a substantial impact on SSA’s ability to reduce the disability hearing backlog and provide services to the public because the agency would need $457 million above the FY ’08 level just to keep pace with inflation in FY ’09. This bill now awaits action by the President.

Tax Extenders/Parity/Medicaid
The House-Senate impasse over tax policy continued as the House brought up, and then withdrew, four tax relief bills that a senior senator said the Senate would not pass. These actions throw into doubt passage of two bills which the disability community has sought to include in the tax entenders bill - mental health parity and a moratorium on the Medicaid outpatient rule. The House is scheduled to adjourn Monday after voting on the financial bailout legislation.

Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2008 (S.3593), which will reform the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program. This legislation is identical to the bill the House of Representatives passed last week (H.R. 5772).

On Wednesday the House of Representatives passed on a voice vote a bill authorizing $13 billion for Amtrak. H.R. 2095 includes rail safety provisions and the Amtrak reauthorization. The language requiring Amtrak to report on their plans for meeting the ADA deadline of station accessibility by 2010 remain in the bill. The Senate will begin consideration of the bill today. While the White House had threatened to veto the House version of the bill (HR 6003), they have yet to offer a view on the compromise bill. If it passes the Senate today it will likely have a veto proof majority.

Special Announcement: The Arc of North Carolina Election 2008 Blog Has Text of Speeches Available Now!

Both Lt. Governor Bev Perdue and Mayor Pat McCrory addressed a crowd of over 100 conference attendees on Friday, September 26, 2008.

Both of their campaigns provided us the full texts of their speeches.  We extend our gratitude to both of these campaigns and to both the candidates for taking time to speak to the real needs and concerns of people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Their speeches are available at The Arc of North Carolina Election 2008 blog.  We encourage you to visit this blog and see what the candidates had to say.

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina:

Here is what is happening at the General Assembly this week. A couple of things to think about during this interim committee process; first the Governor has requested all departments to make 2% cuts within their units. This is a sign of the time folks..the economic downturn is starting to affect how we are dealing with budget needs for this year and the upcoming long session. Second, committee meetings are looking now how to address this economic situation and its affects in North Carolina.

Monday, Sept. 29

10 a.m. | The Child Fatality Taskforce - Intentional Death Committee meets, 1228/1327 LB.

Tuesday, Sept. 30

10 a.m. | The Joint Legislative Commission on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation meets, 643 LOB.
This committee will again begin the work of listening to presentations and designing effective means to deal with the dropout rates and graduation rates in North Carolina.

1 p.m. | The Autism and Public Safety Committee -- Subcommittee on Alternative Testimony meets, 1228 LB.
This committee will be looking at distance technology that will permit testimony to be given without the person being physically present in the courtroom.

Wednesday, Oct. 1
10 a.m. | The Joint Study Committee on Autism and Public Safety meets, 544 LOB.
This committee will begin the process of formulating its recommendations for the upcoming long session. Last session one of the important recommendations that came out of this committee was removing the age limit on the SilverAlert system.

Thursday, Oct. 2

11 a.m. | The House Select Committee on Televising House Sessions meets, 1228 LB.
This committee will begin to review the financial and technological feasibility of live streaming and televising the House sessions in North Carolina.


**Federal Updates will be Coming Later Today...There is a lot happening on the Federal Level and we are currently gathering the most up to the date information.**

Lt. Governor Perdue Discussed Financial Issues for Families with Children with Disabilities

During Lt. Governor Perdue's remarks at The Arc of North Carolina annual conference, she referenced findings in a recent study that address how the economic downturn is directly affecting families with children who have disabilities. Here is a recent posting on our blog by Chris Egan:

"LT. Governor Bev Purdue specifically referenced the article "Material Hardship in U.S. Families Raising Children with Disabilities" Parish, S. L., Rose, R.A., Andrews, M.E., Grinstein-Weiss, M., & Richman, E.L. (in press – Fall 2008). Material hardship among U.S. families raising children with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 75, 71-92.This important research added great weight to the comments of our Lt. Governor. The lead researcher is one of NC's own, Susan Parish, PhD. Dr. Parish is an assistant professor with the UNC School of Social Work, serves as a member of the board of directors of The Arc of Orange County and is the Principal Investigator for the Developmental Disabilities Training Institute (DDTI) with the UNC School of Social Work."

We thought you might want to read the whole article again, especially in light of the recent bailout legislation that Congress is voting on this week and the recent stimulus bill that was passed in the US Senate last week. So here it is....

UNC study: 'chilling' hardship rates among families raising disabled children
Families with disabled children are struggling to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and to pay for needed health and dental care. But according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, these challenges are now falling on middle-income households and not just on poor families as previous research has found.
These latest findings show that long-held federal standards for identifying the nation’s poor are not capturing everyone in need and should be re-evaluated, especially for the financial effects on disabled children, said Susan L. Parish, Ph.D., the study’s lead investigator and an assistant professor in the UNC School of Social Work.

“The bottom line is that U.S. families raising children with disabilities are reporting severe hardships at rates that are chilling, including families that are solidly middle-class,” she said. “We were shocked to find such high rates of hardship among upper-income families.”

The study, which is based on 2002 data from the National Survey of American Families, is being published in this month’s journal “Exceptional Children.” The survey analyzed 28,141 households.

The UNC study found that overall, families across all income levels who are raising disabled children are significantly more challenged by food, housing and health issues compared to families without disabled children. Many also struggled to pay their phone bills.

Most surprising, Parish said, was data indicating that a significant percentage of those struggling are higher-income households. Yet based on federal poverty guidelines – which have remained unchanged since the 1960s and are used to determine eligibility for many income, food, health and disability-related programs – those same households would not be classified as “poor,” she said. They also would not qualify for assistance, despite the higher costs of raising children with disabilities, Parish noted. In 2002, the federal poverty level for a family of four was $18,100.

According to the study, 40 percent of the surveyed families with disabled children who earned between two to three times the federal poverty level (between $36,200 and $54,300 for a family of four, for example) experienced at least one food hardship, including worrying that food would run out or skipping meals because of a lack of money. Fifteen percent of families with incomes at three or more times the federal poverty level ($54,300 and up for a family of four) experienced housing instability, meaning they were unable to pay their rent or had to move in with others.

“These results suggest that state and federal policies that are in place to help families with disabled children are not going nearly far enough,” Parish said. “They are not eliminating deprivation. And these findings are particularly troubling now when the nation’s economy is struggling. Families raising children with disabilities are likely to be hardest hit during this economic downturn.”

Though the study found that children with disabilities were more likely to have health insurance and a usual source of care, they were 61 percent more likely than non-disabled children to have postponed necessary medical care and 83 percent more likely to have postponed needed dental care. The study didn’t examine the causes for those results, but Parish said they likely are related to the expenses of obtaining care – even with health insurance – and other issues, such as limited transportation.

The research results offer a compelling reason to expand eligibility standards for federal programs designed to assist families with disabled children, Parish said. Though more study is needed to determine how best to assist these families, UNC researchers suggest that increasing the income limits for food stamps, housing assistance and federal Supplemental Security Income, which assists low-income people with disabilities, would probably be a good start. Raising the asset limit for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, the federal insurance program for the poor and disabled, so that families are not penalized for saving money in case of a hardship would also help, Parish said.

“These families struggle to provide adequate care for their disabled children,” Parish said, “and stronger supports are vital.”

School of Social Work contact: Michelle Rogers, (919) 962-1532,
News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Day Two at The Arc of North Carolina State Conference

Today is day two of The Arc of North Carolina's state conference. Yesterday members and attendees heard some exciting presentations. We even took an evening cruise on the Henrietta III and were serenaded by the percussion ensemble from the Enrichment Center in Winston Salem.

Today we continue the conference with presentations. Tomorrow will be a special Sunday Edition of the blog showing some interesting numbers regarding the state of developmental disability services in North Carolina.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Representative Beverly Earle Recevies Legislator of the Year Award for the House

Representative Earle's award will be presented in October, time and place will be announced on this blog.

Senator Linda Garrou Thanks The Advocates

Senator Linda Garrou on receiving her award stated that she was so honored to be chosen to receive this award. She expressed deep gratitude to the families and advocates who have worked so hard to serve people with developmental disabilities. She then encouraged the attendees to write letters to their Senator to let them know how bills that they passed affect their lives. She encouraged people to get call or email their legislators with their stories. Senator Garrou stated that it is important that there elected officials listen to the stories of their constituents. Senator Garrou showed all of us today why she deserved this award.
Congratulations Senator Garrou.

Breaking News: US Senate Passes Stimulus Bill - FMAP

The Senate voted on the $56 billion economic stimulus package which included $19.6 billion (a 4% increase) for FMAP, the federal government's share of Medicaid. The Senate voted in favor of the stimulus package by a margin of 52-42. However, it failed to reach the 60 votes needed to override the President's expected veto. Therefore, the Senate withdrew the measure. It may or may not be reconsidered sometime before the Congress adjourns. See roll call below.

The House vote has not yet taken place. The House bill includes $13 billion for FMAP.

Senator Linda Garrou Receives The Arc of North Carolina Legislator of the Year Award

The Arc of North Carolina annually recognizes the outstanding leadership of a member of the House and the Senate. This year The Arc of North Carolina presents its awards to Senator Linda Garrou and Representative Beverly Earle.
Due to a previous commitment Representative Earle was unable to attend this years luncheon.

During this years short session, Senator Linda Garrou was a champion for people with developmental and cognitive disabilities. During the budget appropriation process, she recognized the need to fund the new tier one support waiver slots. As the co sponsor of Senate Bill 1850 DD Service Funds she advocated for support funding dollars for inclusive housing options in our state. In addition Senator Garrou has supported the funding of the Housing 400 Initiative. This important program provides independent, inclusive housing options for people with developmental disabilties. Often during the session Senator Garrou would meet our advocacy team in the halls of the General Assembly and ask if there was anything she could help with, if we were receiving the attention to our issues and funding requests that we needed. This constant support did not go unnoticed. We applaud Senator Garrou for her leadership on issues that have a dramatic effect of our families, and people with developmental and cognitive disabilities.

Video Address by Mayor Pat McCrory On DD Issues

Due to a previous commitment, Mayor Pat McCrory could not attend this conference. He did send us a video address. In the video Pat McCrory touched on the following policy points; he addressed the need for more housing and transportation options for people with disabilities. On the topic of education, he stated that parents deserve an opportunity to have their children receive the best education possible. He highlighted his campaign platform on creating scholarships for students with disabilities to attend the school that best serves their needs. He also addressed issues on creating job opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. He closed out with the need for better accountability.

Keynote Speaker Norman Kunc Excites the Crowd

Norman Kunc was the keynote speaker for this years conference. He spoke about inclusion of children with developmental disabilities in the classroom. His humorous and poignant stories hit home for all of us. Kunc stressed that we learn by experiencing. That children with developmental disabilities learn skills for life by living and by being with their peers.

On the topic of segregating children in the school environment, Kunc stated "We segregate kids because it is administratively easy. Out of site - out of mind. Once we get them out of our site, we are doing what is easiest and we are claiming what we are doing is best. There is a simple rule when it comes to matter how good the swimming instructor is, you can not teach someone to swim in the parking lot of the swimming pool. We are trying to give them the skills of living outside the construct of life, the things I learned about living in the community were taught through simple interactions"

Who is Norman Kunc:

Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift have spent the last 25 years working to ensure that people with disabilities are able to take their rightful place in schools, workplaces, and communities. Although they are well known advocates within the disability rights community, they prefer to think of themselves as modern day storytellers, continuing the long held tradition of using humor and narrative to initiate self-reflection and social change.

Norman and Emma are co-directors of Broadreach Training and Resources Ltd. They provide in-service and training in the areas of inclusive education, employment equity, conflict resolution, and other disability rights issues. They travel extensively throughout North America and abroad working with school districts, human service agencies, employers and advocacy groups

Emma and Norman have collaborated on a number of writing projects, including one chapter discussing the underlying power dynamics in a helper/helpee relationship, and another chapter challenging the perspective of disability as a deficiency. Currently they are working on a book which contends that the field of rehabilitation tyrannizes people with disabilities in the same way that the diet industry tyrannizes women.

Lt Governor Perdue Speaks to the Differences Between Developmental Disability Needs and Mental Health Needs

Bev Perdue addressed the packed room of families, people, and advocates in the developmental disability community by addressing her knowledge that there is a difference between the needs of people with mental illness and the needs of people with developmental disabilities.

"There is a huge difference between mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse needs. To see these three pieces lumped together needs to be fixed. Nothing makes me sadder. There are different treatment options, different family options, different needs. We need to make distinct differences."

Perdue went on to tell the story of her twelve year old granddaughter Rachael. "Rachael is a beautiful girl with brown hair and brown eyes who is 100% special needs. 100% cerebral palsy. My family and my grand daughter is special to me just like your families are special to you."

Bev Perdue then addressed the need to have 24-7 care opportunities available for families in all 100 counties. She stated that her family is committed to keeping Rachael in our home and getting as much support from Mediciad as possible.

Perdue also addressed the need to expand economic and educational opprortunities. "Every kid in North Carolina deserves a change to have a good education. Every child in our system have the opportunity to communicate and when possible get a job."

Bev Perdue also made a pledge to the audience..."you should not be limited to services based on your zip code-there needs to be a safety net in all 100 counties-with flat services for all of your folks-same basic safety net of services."

On transportation-Perdue said we need to figure out a way to move folks that is accessible and affordable.

On housing-Housing Trust Fund-must give housing critical importance. People with disabilities often live on only $670.00 per month. We have housing challenges and the Housing Trust Fund must be a top priority.

Lt. Governor Bev Perdue

Lieutenant Governor Bev Perdue, Democratic candidate for Governor, opened her remarks by stating that she has a long relationship with The Arc of Craven County. She stated it was a privledge to be asked to speak at The Arc of North Carolina state conference.

Bev Perdue connected to audience by saying "As I look at the system, and I read the papers, I am a regular citizen too. I get as mad as you do with what i see in the headlines." Stressing that you can not fix the system overnight, Perdue set out to establish that there will be accountability and hands on action in her administration. "I will hold all the systems up to quality outcomes." "No neglect will be tolerated."

Bev Perdue stated that is she becomes the next governor of North Carolina, "there is going to be a new boss in town. When bad stuff or good stuff happen I will get the credit or I will get the blame. Accountability for individual outcomes is critical."

Lt. Governor Bev Perdue Talks About Issues Facing People with Developmental Disabilities

Executive Director Dave Richard, is introducing Bev Perdue right now!

The Arc of North Carolina State Conference Live Blogging!

Good Morning Everyone! The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog will be updating the minute to minute events during the 2008 State Conference.

Great things happening this morning....first Lt. Governor Bev Perdue will be addressing the attendees this morning at 9:30am.

Next up will be a presentation by Norman Kunc.

Right now we have the new executive director of The Arc of the US Peter Bernes meeting attendees for a cup of coffee and discussions on the future of The Arc!

This is an exciting conference and we encourage you to check back often for updates.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NC Legislative Update: Upcoming Legislative Oversight Committee Meeting MH/DD/SA

Tomorrow, Thursday September 25, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Substance Abuse Services will meet at 10:00am in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building. As always this meeting is open to the public. If you can not attend the meeting you can listen in on line by visiting the North Carolina General Assembly's website at

Updated Agenda: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services

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

Reports from LMEs 10:15 – 11:00
Daniel Hahn, Executive Director, Alamance-Caswell-Rockingham LME
David Swann, Executive Director, Crossroads Behavioral Healthcare LME

State Facilities 11:00 – 11:45
a. Update on State Psychiatric Hospitals
Michael Lancaster, MD, Co-Director, Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

b. Suspension of Medicaid Benefits for Incarcerated Recipients and Recipients in
Institutions for Mental Diseases
William Lawrence, Jr., MD, Acting Director, Div. of Medical Assistance, DHHS

Services in the Community
a. Update on Community Support Services 11:45 – 12:00
William Lawrence, Jr., MD, Acting Director, Div. of Medical Assistance, DHHS

Lunch 12:00 – 1:00

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Services 1:00 – 1:30
Leza Wainwright, Co-Director, Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Substance Abuse Services: Comprehensive Area Service Providers 1:30 – 2:00
Flo Stein, Chief of Community Policy Management, Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS
Trish Hussey, Executive Director, Freedom House Recovery Center

Public Comment Period 2:00 – 3:00

Adjourn 3:00

Monday, September 22, 2008

Legislative Oversight Committee Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Thursday Agenda

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse-Agenda-Thursday September 25, 2008. This meeting will take place in room 643 of the legislative office building.

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

2. Reports from LMEs 10:15 – 11:00
Daniel Hahn, Executive Director, Alamance-Caswell-Rockingham LME
David Swann, Executive Director, Crossroads Behavioral Healthcare LME

3. State Facilities 11:00 – 12:00
a. Update on State Psychiatric Hospitals
Michael Lancaster, MD, Co-Director, Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

b. Suspension of Medicaid Benefits for Incarcerated Recipients and Recipients in
Institutions for Mental Diseases
William Lawrence, Jr., MD, Acting Director, Div. of Medical Assistance, DHHS

Lunch 12:00 – 1:00

4. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Services 1:00 – 1:30
Leza Wainwright, Co-Director, Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

5. Public Hearing 1:30 – 3:00

Adjourn 3:00

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

Well the interim committee meetings are now in full swing at the General Assembly. Here is the list of what is happening and where.

On Thursday there will be a meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse. The agenda for this meeting will be posted in a separate blog post.

Tuesday, Sept. 23

10 a.m. | The Joint Select Committee on Arts Education Meets, 1228 LB.

1 p.m. | The House Study Committee on Unbanked and Underbanked Consumers meets, 1228 LB.

Wednesday, Sept. 24

10 a.m. | The North Carolina Study Commission on Aging meets, 1228 LB.

10 a.m. | The Joint Legislative Health Care Oversight Committee meets, 643 LOB.

10 a.m. | The Legislative Study Commission on Children and Youth meets, 544 LOB.

Thursday, Sept. 25
10 a.m. | The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse meets, 643 LOB.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Breaking News: House Passes ADA Amendment Act-

On the heels of the Senate having done so last week, yesterday (9-17-08) the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (S. 3406). This clears the way for the legislation to be sent to the President to become law. At this time it is unclear exactly when the President will sign the legislation into law, but the White House has said he will sign the bill.

the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA, which on a personal note could be one the hardest acronyms I have ever seen) specifically overturns Supreme Court decisions that have caused too many people with disabilities whom Congress intended the ADA to cover to lose important protection. The ADAAA makes it clear that Congress intended the ADA’s coverage to be broad, to cover anyone who faces unfair discrimination because of a disability. The legislation also clarifies the current requirement that an impairment must substantially limit a major life activity in order to be considered a disability. S. 3406 prohibits consideration of mitigating measures in the determination of whether an individual has a disability, with the exception of ordinary eyeglasses and contact lenses. Finally, the bill affords broad coverage for individuals regarded as having a disability under the ADA, but includes a provision to make it clear that accommodations need not be made to someone who is disabled solely because he or she is regarded as having a disability.

This legislation was crafted in an extraordinary collaboration between the disability and business communities and Members on Capitol Hill. This is a huge victory for those seeking to restore the original intent of the ADA, and is a good opportunity to thank all elected representatives for their support for the legislation (since it passed unanimously in both the House and Senate).

(Special Thanks to National Protection and Advocacy List Serve for this Breaking News Alert)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Election 2008 Lt. Governor Candidates Debate Tonight

UNC-TV will host a debate on the issues with the candidates for lieutenant governor.  The candidates are Democratic Walter Dalton, Republican Robert Pittenger and Libertarian Phillip Rhodes.  The debate will air at 7:30pm on UNC-TV.

We will have updates as always on our Election 2008 Blog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

News Story Links for DNRC Law Suit

WRAL News and the News and Observer both have articles regarding the filing of a law suit by Disability Rights North Carolina.  Disability Rights North Carolina is the protection and advocacy organization for people with disabilities.

Here are the story links:

Breaking News NC: DRNC Files Suit to Enforce Access Rights

Raleigh, NC-

Today, the Protection and Advocacy agency for North Carolina, Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC), filed a federal lawsuit against the Wake County Board of Education and its Director of Special Education Services, Robert Sturey, in order to gain access to a classroom in which abuse is alleged to have occurred and to obtain the names and contact information for parent and guardians of students in a self-contained classroom for children with autism. This court action is in furtherance of DRNC’s investigation into allegations that school staff improperly restrained children in the class, including a claim that one of these children was placed in handcuffs.
The Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC) supports fully the right of DRNC to investigate these allegations, including its right to obtain contact information for the parents of the children in the classroom, and to interview students, staff and school administrators concerning these claims. “This is a situation which requires an independent investigation to ensure that children with disabilities are not being improperly restrained,” said Tracey Sheriff, the Interim Executive Director of ASNC. “The treatment of children with autism that has been raised by these allegations should be regarded with utmost seriousness, and should be investigated accordingly.”
DRNC, as North Carolina’s federally designated Protection and Advocacy agency, is charged with the duty to investigate complaints of abuse and neglect of children and others with disabilities. “We are disappointed that the Wake County Public School System has chosen to hinder DRNC’s efforts, and call upon the Superintendant and the School Board to resolve this matter by pledging their cooperation with DRNC’s investigation,” stated Vicki Smith, Executive Director of DRNC.  

Press Release Provided to The Arc of North Carolina by Disability Rights North Carolina.

Two Political Events of Importance Today in NC

Today we were present at two political events.  The first was a press conference hosted by Action for Children.  The second was a gubernatorial forum hosted by the North Carolina Coalition for Ethics and Government Reform.  We will be posting articles on both of these events on our Election 2008 blog.

Now is the time to learn about what our gubernatorial candidates are saying on multiple topics.  

Quick reminder: as always The Arc of North Carolina is a non-partisan organization. We do not endorse any candidates and we do not endorse any party.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina:

Election 2008 is in full swing with both gubernatorial candidates making campaign stops and opening offices. If you missed our coverage of the last gubernatorial debates please visit The Arc of North Carolina Election 2008 Blog.
The Arc of North Carolina state conference will be held in Wilmington on September 26-27, 2008. On Friday, September 26, 2008 Bev Perdue will be addressing the attendees during our morning session and Pat McCrory will be addressing the attendees via video tape during our lunch session.

General Assembly:
The General Assembly interim committees are also meeting at a rapid pace. This week we will have the first meeting of the newly appointed Housing Study Commission. Foreclosure rates continue to rise in North Carolina. There is also a concern regarding sustainable, affordable accessible housing options in our state.

This weeks meetings:

Monday, Sept. 15
2 p.m. | The Employee Hospital and Medical Benefits Committee meets, 421 LOB.

Tuesday, Sept. 16
1 p.m. | The Joint Study Committee on Hospital Infection Control & Disclosure meets, 1425 LB.

2 p.m. | The Joint Select Committee on Governmental Immunity meets, 1228 LB.

2 p.m. | The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Systems meets, 421 LOB.

Wednesday, Sept. 17
2 p.m. | The Joint Study Committee on Housing meets, 544 LOB.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Breaking News: Senate Passes ADA Amendments Act

September 11, 2008 - Breaking News from DPC and The Arc of the United States

Thanks to all of your grassroots support, the Senate just passed The ADA Amendments Act (S. 3406) by unanimous consent. The bill included over 77 bipartisan co-sponsors.

Because the Senate bill differs slightly from the House version (HR 3195), the House will need to take up the ADA Amendments Act again. Given limited time, it is likely the House will vote on the Senate version as early as next week. Once both houses pass identical bills, we anticipate the President will sign the bill shortly thereafter.

The ADA Amendments Act will correct narrow court interpretations that have restricted ADA coverage in the workplace, and weakened coverage for individuals with developmental disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy, serious heart conditions, and cancer. The act will also clarify responsibilities for employers. It enjoys wide support on both sides of the aisle, as well as among employers, civil rights and disability advocates, who have formed an uncommon alliance to support this legislation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pat McCrory and Bev Perdue Live Debate-WRAL

With only eight weeks until Election Day, Pat McCrory and Bev Perdue will hold a live debate this evening on WRAL. There are important issues facing North Carolina and this is an important election. The candidates will be taking questions from viewers. Please visit WRAL’s website to submit a question. (We cannot guarantee your question will be chosen this evening but you never know.) We encourage you to take some time out to watch this debate.

When: 7:00pm Tuesday, September 9th
Where: WRAL (Check local channel listings)

(The Arc of North Carolina Election 2008 Blog will be live blogging the debate and will have more information during the evening. Come visit us.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week Federal.

U. S. Congress

The Congress returns to work today after a five week summer recess. The returning congressional delegation is facing a huge agenda with very little time to get work completed. Often this can become short session can become a lame duck session. This will be a three week session.

Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations

At best, the Congress may pass only two of the twelve FY 2009 appropriations bills before the start on FY 2009 on October 1. Those two would be the Department of Defense and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bills. The House of Representatives is the only body to have cleared a FY 2009 appropriations bill thus far (Military Construction/VA). The House Committee on Appropriations is scheduled to mark up its version of the FY 2009 Defense bill on Tuesday. The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to release its markup schedule. With only three weeks to complete action on these bills, enactment of even these two bills may prove impossible.

Fiscal Year 2009 Continuing Resolution

In order to prevent a shut down of most of the federal government on October 1, the Congress must pass and President Bush must sign a FY 2009 Continuing Resolution (CR). Action on the CR will be very dicey if other policy provisions (e.g. energy policy) are added to the CR. Depending on the politics, a CR could keep the government operating for a short while after the election when a lame duck session would be held or sometime in late winter after the new 110th Congress convenes. Under a CR, most federal programs would remain funded at FY 2008 levels with some exceptions. The White House has indicated that it would allow a few programs to be increased in the CR in accordance to the Administration's FY 2009 funding request. It is hoped that additional funding for the Social Security Administration will be included in this list.

Second Economic Stimulus Package

Congressional Democrats are still plotting to craft a new economic stimulus package that would entice President Bush to sign the measure into law. The price tag has not been set and what new spending (e.g. another tax rebate to individuals, job stimulation, infrastructure and disaster relief, etc) to include must still be decided. With many states in deep financial trouble, one potential item to be included in the package is an increase to the Medicaid state match. The Administration continues to send veto threats on a new stimulus package.


A federal judge in Detroit has ruled the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to airports and to airlines. U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh denied a motion by Northwest Airlines to dismiss a lawsuit brought by five Detroit area residents with physical disabilities. The plaintiffs allege Northwest fails to provide them adequate assistance in the airport and on the plane, causing problems such as missed flights and damaged wheelchairs. Northwest, in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, argued the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to services at airports. But Steeh ruled otherwise and said in a 13-page opinion that to conclude the ADA did not apply to airports "would leave the door open for acts of discrimination that could not be remedied."

More Election 2008 News

Jump over to our Election 2008 site to see what is up with state elections.  We have a new post this morning.

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

This week we will see a slight increase in study meetings at the General Assembly. Congress is getting ready to head back for what is looking like a very short session.

North Carolina

Monday, Sept. 8
10 a.m. | The Child Fatality Taskforce - Unintentional Death Committee meets, 1228/1327 LB.

Wednesday, Sept. 10

10 a.m. | The Legislative Study Commission on Children and Youth meets, 1027 LB.

Thursday, Sept. 11
11 a.m. | The 21st Century Transportation Committee meets, Four Points Sheraton Downtown Asheville Hotel, 22 Woodfin St., Asheville. Contact: Larry Goode, 301-1589.
There is also a 930am Funding Subcommittee meeting planned while in Asheville.

Interesting note regarding this meeting, last week the National Highway Trust Fund announced that they were having difficulties financially. They are requesting the federal government give an infusion of $8 billion dollars so that they can meet their obligations to repaying states. This will definitely be a topic that we can expect to hear at this transportation meeting. If federal matching and repay money does not flow into the state for our highway projects then the state will need to find more money to replace it.
Washington Post Article

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Blogging the Republican National Convention

All this week we have been blogging the Republican National Convention.  Tonight we are watching and blogging as John McCain addresses the nation.  Please visit our Election 2008 blog.

2008 North Carolina Legislative Summary: Bills Report

It is not just about the budget during the short session.  There were also several bills that passed this session that were signed by the governor that have a direct effect on people with developmental and cognitive disabilities and their families.  Here is a brief review of those bills.

SB 1498: Study Disabled Access to UNC Facilities.
(2008 Study Bill)

This bill would direct the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina study the accessibility of its facilities to people with severe physical disabilities seeking basic access to higher education within the state university system.

HB 12: Students Ineligible for Special Education Protection
(Session Law 2008-90)

This bill protects a narrow group of eligible students with disabilities from long-term suspensions when schools fail to identify them and their performance and behavior clearly establish the need for such services.

SB 1892: Autism Committee Recommendations (Session Law 2008-83)

Changes to Silver Alert:
An important part of this bill is the changes to the Silver Alert System. Silver Alert was passed as law last session and was to be used for people with dementia or cognitive disabilities over the age of 18 who are reported missing. This program is very similar to the Amber Alert system. This new law will remove the 18year old requirement.

The School of Government, in consultation with the Autism Society of NC, TEACCH, and appropriate legal associations and organizations, shall study the various groups in the judicial system for which additional training may be necessary on the legal issues and appropriate responses to persons with autism.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2008 North Carolina Legislative Summary

During this past session, legislative leaders and people with developmental disabilities, cognitive disabilities, their family members and advocates worked together to fund important programs that help people access health care, affordable housing options and services.  Here is The Arc of North Carolina's Legislative Summary of the 2008 Budget.


Funds for CAP/MR-DD Slots: SB 1794 and HB 2361
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)
$10,000,000 recurring

During fiscal year 2008-2009 this will be annualized to $6.6 million. In fiscal year 2009-2010 we will see the full $10 million. The Special provisions with this appropriation direct priority to Tier 1 Support Waiver Slots. North Carolina Piedmont Behavior Health Care, our state’s 1915B and C waivers, will receive a per-capita share of the slots made available through this new appropriation.

Housing 400 Initiative: (Session Law 2008-107 Budget)
$7,000,000 non-recurring and $1,000,000 recurring

Continuing the MH/DD/SA Housing Initiative-Housing Trust Fund
7 million dollars in non-recurring funding. ($2 million of which is realigned from the Mental Health Trust Fund)This appropriation will be directed to the financing of additional independent and supportive living apartments for people with disabilities who have incomes at the Supplement Security Income level.

Continuing the MH/DD/SA Housing Initiative-Operating Cost Subsidy$1 million dollars in recurring funding. This appropriation provides the necessary funding for operating cost subsidies for independent-and supportive-living apartments for individuals with disabilities.

HUD 811 Direct Support Service Dollars: SB 1850 and HB 2477
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$129,331 recurring and $155,000 non-recurring
This appropriation request by The Arc of North Carolina would direct funds to four HUD 811 projects. The projects are located in Wake, Mecklenburg, Rowan and Buncombe counties.

START Crisis Model
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$1,737,250 recurring and $138,993 non-recurring
This appropriation will provide funding for 6 (six) Developmental Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Respite, and Treatment Crisis Model Teams that are community based. Funding is $1,737,250 dollars recurring and $138,993 dollars non-recurring.

Respite Beds for Developmental Disabilities.
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$903,375 recurring and $177,617 non-recurring
The funding includes $903,375 dollars in recurring funding and $177,617 dollars in non-recurring funding. It will provide the funding required to start-up on continue support of 12 respite crisis beds for individuals with developmental disabilities across the State.

Funding for Special Needs Programs: HB 2169
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$6,200,000 recurring
The appropriation was for $17 million. In the final budget there was $6.2 million to increase the per student rate for children with special needs.

Traumatic Brain Injury Services: HB 2552 Funds/TBI Services
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$1,000,000 recurring
The final budget provided $1 million dollars in recurring funding to assist people with traumatic brain injury receive needed services.

Beyond Academics: Intellectual Disabilities Transition Program: HB 2206 Funds/Beyond Academics
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)
$200,000 non-recurring
Beyond Academics is a non-degree university-based program for students with developmental disabilities that supports the participants in living as independently as possible. This model program received $200,000 dollars in non-recurring funding.

Medically-Fragile Children’s Program: SB 2083 Funds for PSA Health Care, Inc.
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$360,000 non-recurring
The appropriation included $290,000 dollars allocated from the Social Services Block Grant and $70,000 dollars from the General Fund. This funding is directed to a daycare program for medically fragile high need children.

Early Intervention for Autism: HB 2131/SB 1824 Funds/Autism Early Intervention
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$1,875,000 recurring
This funding request saw an increase from the House budget. The House budget appropriated $1,300,000 dollars non- recurring for Early Intervention. In the final budget the appropriation was increased to $1,875,000 dollars, designated as recurring funding and a breakdown of direction for funding was detailed. $625,000 to the Autism Society of North Carolina for training and collaboration with model programs and community agencies to increase availability of autism early intervention services. $1,250,000 will be directed to the department to contract directly for three model programs of early intervention services.

Autism Awareness and Education Video: SB 1892: Autism Committee Recommendations
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$30,000 non-recurring
The appropriation was for $30,000 non-recurring funding. This will provide the necessary funds to develop a video for autism education and awareness for public officials, including judicial branch officials. The funds will be allocated to the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

HB 2433: Funds for Discharge Planning/Developmental Disabilities
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)(Section 10.15t Special Provisions)

Directs the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services to assist Local Management Entities in using up to 5% (five percent) of the LMEs developmental disability funds to help successfully transition individuals from developmental disability centers into the community.

Drop Out Prevention:
(Session Law 2008-107 Budget)

$15,000,000 non recurring
This funding will support additional grants to schools that are creating effective Drop Out Prevention programs.

Ticket To Work: Budget Special Provision (Session Law 2008-107)

Special Provision in the Budget restores the implementation date for this program to July 1, 2008.

The Arc of North Carolina State Conference

The Arc of North Carolina will hold its state conference September 26th and 27th at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside, Wilmington North Carolina.

Please visit our conference site to learn more about this important event.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina
This week will be very quiet on the state policy front. There are no rumors of special sessions. There are also no committee meetings scheduled.

Congress is still on break.

If you are a political junkie there is only one show in town this week, the Republican National Convention.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day: Policy Blog Notice

The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog will be celebrating Labor Day today. So your normal "Monday Quick Hits" will be available on Tuesday. However, we will be covering the update on the Republican National Convention on our Election 2008 website.