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This Week in Public Policy: October 23 - 27, 2017

In Ohio:

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, the House Civil Justice Committee held OPPONENT/INTERESTED PARTY Testimony on House Bill 271 (Accessibility Law Violations). The bill would create a system of advanced notification to businesses for an alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There were four witnesses present to testify and one witness who submitted written testimony. Members of the committee asked witnesses how the bill might be improved so that it provided incentives for businesses to comply with the ADA, with Mark Seifarth commenting that tax incentives are helpful and Derek Mortland indicating that Florida’s new state law might be a better approach. The committee adopted two amendments; one amendment clarified that the law did not apply to housing discrimination claims under the Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s purview, and reduced from 90 to 60 days the amount of time that a business has to correct violations, with the option to extend an additional 60 days if needed. Witness testimony is as follows:

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, the House Ways and Means Committee held SPONSOR Testimony on House Bill 304 (Disabled Adult Adoption Tax Credit). Under current law, the adoption of a minor child makes a taxpayer eligible for a tax credit. The bill would extend this credit to a “step-parent” who adopts an adult with a permanent or total disability or an adult with an intellectual disability. State Representative Ron Young testified to the committee that he introduced this bill because a family from his district came to him and requested it. There were no questions from the committee.

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, the House State and Local Government Committee held SPONSOR Testimony on Senate Bill 144 (State Rehabilitation Services Consolidation). State Senator David Burke testified that the bill would save the state $33,000 per year and is supported by Disability Rights Ohio.

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, the House Health Committee passed out of committee House Bill 214 (Down Syndrome Abortion Ban). The bill would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion if the mother is seeking the abortion because the unborn child has or may have Down Syndrome. There were three amendments offered, but all three amendments were tabled. Written testimony in opposition was also submitted to the committee.

On Thursday, transportation stakeholders from across the state participated in the second annual Transportation Equity Forum, coordinated by Services for Independent Living. State Representative Bill Seitz attended as a guest of the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council and presented an overview of legislation he is working on (House Bill 195) that would allow individuals with disabilities to utilize Uber/Lyft and other cars for hire without the law requiring those vehicles to obtain special certifications. Following a panel featuring Ohio activities, stakeholders identified priorities for improving transportation for individuals with disabilities.

In Washington:

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing entitled, “Down Syndrome: Update on the State of the Science and Potential for Discoveries Across Other Major Diseases.” The hearing was broken up into two panels, with Congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rogers and Cheri Bustos and Congressman Pete Sessions highlighting their own personal connection to individuals with Down syndrome and clarifying that funding for Down syndrome research within the National Institutes of Health is far below other programs. McMorris Rogers stated that funding for Down syndrome research makes up, “less than one-hundredth of one percent of the total budget.” The second panel consisted of four subject matter experts in the field of research on Down syndrome. The witnesses discussed the need for NIH to increase funding for research for Down syndrome. One witnesses stated that people with Down syndrome are, “due to a small difference in their genetic makeup, these Americans are naturally protected from most cancers.” The witness also pointed out the high prevalence (almost 100%) of Alzheimer’s disease in the same population, suggesting that resources for scientific research within the population should be significantly increased.

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing entitled, “Working and Aging with Disabilities: From School to Retirement.” Witnesses testimony can be found here. David Mank, Professor Emeritus at Indiana State University provided the Special Committee with the following guidelines for improving competitive integrated employment (CIE) for individuals with developmental and other disabilities:

  1. Align funding of employment services with competitive integrated employment outcomes.
  2. Create incentives to states to make CIE a priority and build capacity to deliver CIE. (He suggested creating state grants as incentives)
  3. Address the issue of the payment of sub-minimum wage. (Phase it out)
  4. Establish an interagency commission or working group to establish guidance and technical assistance to states to deliver CIE.
  5. Provide assistance and incentives to the business community to employ people with significant disabilities. (National campaign to educate and Congress should update tax incentives)
  6. Make changes in the AbilityOne Program so it aligns with modern disability and employment policy.

Testimony was also offered by an individual with a disability who has worked for nearly 40 years (Jeff Smith).


NEXT Week in Public Policy: October 30 – November 3, 2017

In Ohio:

On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee will hold another hearing on Autonomous/Connected Vehicles. The hearing will include a briefing from manufacturers on the basics of the technology for autonomous/connected vehicles (AV/CV) and the timeline for implementation. The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. in Room 017 of the Ohio Statehouse.

On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the House State and Local Government Committee will hold PROPONENT & OPPONENT Testimony on Senate Bill 144 (State Rehabilitation Services Consolidation). The bill proposes to merge the Consumer Advisory Council, the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities and the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Commission into a single Council comprised of 15 individuals, a majority of whom would be individuals with disabilities. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in Room 122 of the Ohio Statehouse. (Note: Chair Anielski has scheduled six other bills for this hearing, all with ALL testimony being offered, some with amendments and votes. Participants should expect delays)

In Washington:

No hearings have been identified.


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