The Week in Public Policy: April 26 - 30, 2021

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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In Ohio

On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the Senate Health Committee heard testimony on the Opportunities for Ohioan’s with Disabilities’ budget request. OOD Director Kevin Miller provided testimony to the committee. Director Miller was asked to explain the reason for an increase in the line item for Centers for Independent Living, for which he explained the increase reflected an amount that represented the funding levels the centers were at approximately 10 years ago, and the federal pass through money would make Ohio comparable to the funding levels of centers of surrounding states.

On Thursday, April 29, 2021, the Senate Health Committee heard testimony on the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities’ budget request. In addition to receiving testimony from Director Jeff Davis, the committee received testimony from a panel that included Pete Moore (Ohio Provider Resource Association), Pete Van Runkle (Ohio Health Care Association), Bridget Gargan (Ohio Association of County Boards of DD), and Gary Tonks (Arc of Ohio). In addition to the panel, the committee also received testimony from Bob Heinzerling (Heinzerling Foundation), Kevin Krencisz (Cleveland Sight Center), and Caroline Lahrmann (Disability Advocacy Alliance). Director Davis’ testimony laid out the Department’s budget request, while the panel expressed support for an increase in the budget to support direct support wages, along with an “unfreezing” of the ICF rate increase that was supposed to occur statutorily. Lahrmann announced a forthcoming amendment that Sen. Romanchuk is expected to introduce that would require Disability Rights Ohio to undergo annual or biannual reviews by a state entity. Additional written testimony was submitted. All testimony can be found under the document archive on the Committee’s Webpage.

In Washington

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing on the US Department of Labor’s FY2022 appropriations request. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh presented testimony to the committee on the Department’s budget ask. Walsh outlined broad uses for the agency’s $14.2 Billion in discretionary funding, noting the amount is 14 percent higher than the 2021 enacted level. Walsh told the committee the agency requested $3.7 Billion (a 6% increase) for WIOA and Wagner Peyser grants.

On Thursday, April 29, 2021, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to examine Social Security during COVID, focusing on how the pandemic hampered access to benefits and strategies for improving service delivery. Testifying before the committee were Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the Social Security Administration Grace KimKascadare Causeye, program manger from Portland, ORPeggy Murphy, immediate past president of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations, and Tara Dawson McGuinness, New Practice Lab.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: May 3 - May 7, 2021

In Ohio

Next week, the Senate Health Committee plans to hold several committee hearings to continue reviewing the health and human service agencies budget requests. Scheduled for Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. in the North Hearing Room, the committee will receive testimony on the Department of Job and Family Services Budget. On Wednesday, May 5th, 2021, the committee will meet at 9:00 a.m. in the North Hearing Room to receive testimony on the Departments of Aging and Medicaid budgets. On Thursday, May 6th, 2021, the committee will hear ALL public testimony beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the North Hearing Room of the Ohio Senate Building.

In Washington

On Thursday, May 6, 2021, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing entitled, “Broadband Equity: Addressing Disparities in Access and Affordability.” The hearing will take place at 11:30 a.m. via Cisco WebEx online video conference. Notable Ohioans serving on this committee include Congressman Bob Latta (Ranking Minority Member) and Congressman Bill Johnson.

Facts That May Only Interest Me

In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes won a race at Belmont Park even though he was dead. He suffered a severe heart attack mid-race, but his body remained fastened in the saddle until his horse crossed the line. The odds of that win was 20-1. And speaking of odds, Donerail was the longest odds winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1913, beating 91-1 odds. The closest long-shot winner was just in 2019, when Country House was promoted to winner after Maximum Security was disqualified for impeding other horses. That win beat 65-1 odds.