This Week in Public Policy, written by DD Council staff person Paul Jarvis, provides a summary of policy and legislation in Ohio and at the federal level that is of interest to people with disabilities.
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On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held SPONSOR Testimony House Bill 13 (Broadband Expansion Grants). The bill would provide grants to entities considering expanding broadband services to unserved areas of the state. Bill sponsor Representative Rick Carfagna explained in sponsor testimony that many families in rural areas, during the pandemic, have been forced to drive to the local library to use broadband, but because the library was closed due to the pandemic, families would sit in the parking lot in their cars in order to gain access to high-speed internet service. Lead co-sponsor, Rep. Michael O’Brien, submitted written testimony. The Ohio DD Council is following this bill closely because the bill has the potential to improve opportunities for individuals all over Ohio to participate in remote supports and telehealth.
On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the Senate General Government and Oversight Reform Committee held ALL Testimony on Senate Bill 246 (Occupational Licenses Across State Lines). The bill would recognize certain professional licenses issued in other states to allow professionals to work in Ohio, given they are in good standing. Written testimony was submitted by a think tank from Washington DC in support of the bill, saying Ohio’s licensing requirements were more stringent than other states and that more professionals would be able to work in the state.
On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the Ohio Statehouse was rocked by revelations that Speaker Larry Householder and several associates were under arrest and part of a broad FBI investigation into racketeering and bribery charges. The FBI investigation stemmed from House Bill 6 and the use of “dark money” (money that is used in politics for which the donor of the money remains unidentified) to pass the bill and to stymie a petition initiative to overturn the recently passed bill. Multiple leaders have called for the resignation of the Speaker and as of Friday, there have been no public statements from Householder regarding his intentions. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine stated at his Thursday press conference that House members should vote in new leadership immediately.
On Thursday, July 23, 2020, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Seema Verma participated in a virtual roundtable discussion with University Hospitals in Ohio to discuss telehealth during the pandemic. According to an article in Hannah News Service, Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran listened into the calls and discussions were very supportive of continuing to provide expanded telehealth services beyond the pandemic.
On Friday, July 24, 2020, the Government Accountability Office issued a report entitled, “K-12 EDUCATION: School Districts Need Better Information to Help Improve Access for People with Disabilities.” The GAO conducted the study following a national survey of public school districts and educational agencies and visited 16 school districts in California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico and Rhode Island to conduct evaluations. The report found that 70 percent of school buildings in the nation present physical barriers to full participation by individuals with disabilities.
NEXT Week in Public Policy: July 27 - 31, 2020
No legislative hearings are scheduled.
Friday, July 31, 2020 marks the DEADLINE for PUBLIC COMMENTS on a series of proposed rule changes the Ohio Department of Education is considering related to Special Education. Some families are expressing concern with one proposed rule change (3301-51-5), which would eliminate the requirement to obtain parental consent when a school is considering change of placement. Since 2008, Ohio Rules have provided parents the right to consent to a change of placement that is not related to a disciplinary measure. ODE is stating the parent has this right as a member of the IEP Team, however, many families believe their wishes can be ignored by the team. A sample template letter is being circulated by families to oppose this proposed rule change.
On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, will hold a hearing entitled, “Experiences of Vulnerable Populations during Disaster.” No witnesses have been announced at this time. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. (a hearing room is not included in the announcement). The committee will also be streamed live.
Facts That May Only Interest Me: During a Formula 1 race, a driver loses, on average, about 8 pounds in water weight, due to high temperatures experienced in the cockpit. A Formula 1 driver experiences roughly 5 times gravity (g-forces) during braking, and anywhere from 4-6 g-forces while cornering, placing tremendous stress on their neck muscles. A Formula 1 car’s brake temperature can rise up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, enough to melt lead, aluminum, and tin.
Sample Template Letter
July 14, 2020
Submitted via firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohio Department of Education
25 South Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Re: Comment on Proposed Rule Change to OAC 3301-51-05 Procedural Safeguards
To Whom It May Concern:
I strongly oppose the proposed change to remove the parental consent requirement for changes in placement. I oppose this change because it will diminish my ability to participate in decisions about where my child receives an education, and will make it harder for me to actively participate in the IEP process. The current rule prevents my child’s IEP team from overruling my opinions without having a thorough discussion about my child’s needs, and explaining fully to me the reasons behind the school’s proposals. If the proposed change goes through, I believe my district will not listen to my concerns and will instead make unilateral decision about my child. I also believe that my school will make these decisions without fully considering all other available options. I am basing my opposition on my personal experience with my school.
[paragraph with personal example on how current rule has protected/befitted their own child and their own participation in the process, including: 1) brief description of child and background facts regarding the proposed change of placement, 2) brief explanation of why parent was opposed to the change in placement/how it was detrimental, 3) how the current rule protected the child and how the team worked together to determine a better option/how parent’s voice was heard, 4) reasonable explanation of how the outcome could have been different if this rule is changed/what dispute resolution options they would’ve had to utilize/how different options are not accessible for money, time, etc. reasons]
In summary, removing the parental consent requirement would be incredibly detrimental to parents of students with disabilities. The consent requirement is the strongest protection parents currently have and is necessary to ensure my voice as a member of the IEP team is heard.
/s/ [Parent name]