This Week in Public Policy: March 30 - April 3, 2020

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 Monday, March 30, 2020, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton signed a new order extending the closure of Public Schools through May 1, 2020. State Senator Andy Brenner, Co-Chair of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Caucus in the Ohio Legislature, has been seeking clarification from the Ohio Department of Education and the US Department of Education about remote learning for students on an IEP. Brenner asked DD Council to share the following statement:

“The Covid19 pandemic is having an effect on every family in Ohio. I want to assure people and families of the Developmentally Disabled that the state will continue to maintain their services in this crisis. If additional legislation is needed to address issues around the DD community as it is related to this crisis, we will address them in the coming weeks and months.” – State Senator Andrew Brenner

The Ohio Department of Education also maintains a page with information on how students on an IEP will be served during school closures.

Practically EVERY bit of information that was communicated this week related to the Coronavirus Pandemic. If you’re like me, your e-mail inbox is inundated with messages from businesses and government about how to handle and cope during Ohio’s Stay-at-Home Order (which was extended until May 1st). The Ohio DD Council has developed a resource page for people with developmental disabilities and their family members. We will keep updating this page with more resources as they become available.

On Friday, April 3, 2020, the Ohio DD Council signed onto a letter to Governor Mike DeWine and ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton asking the state to provide guidance to healthcare providers to not make decisions about the availability of care or equipment that is based on a person’s disability. The letter identifies other states that have rules in place that allow ventilators and other care to be redirected away from people with disabilities to provide care for those without disabilities. The letter states, in part, “These protocols fail to recognize the humanity and dignity of people with disabilities by devaluing their lives. They also violate, among other laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section 504”), and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).” The letter, drafted by Disability Rights Ohio and signed by DRO, DD Council, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital UCEDD, OSILC, National MS Society, Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, will be made available on DRO’s COVID-19 Resource Page.

In Washington

Since last Friday, Council staff has been able to look more closely (and to find updated Bill language) related to the stimulus payments under the CARES Act for people whose sole income is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The final passed bill DOES allow people who receive SSI to receive a stimulus check IF they are an American citizen and IF they cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s taxes. On Thursday, April 2, 2020, the IRS issued a statement indicating that Social Security recipients would not need to file a tax return in order to receive a stimulus check. However, this is only for Social Security recipients who receive an SSA-1099 (SSI recipients do not receive an SSA-1099). US Senator Sherrod Brown’s office has informed DD Council they are working to get the IRS to automatically send stimulus checks to SSI recipients too (without the need for them to file a tax return). Stay tuned!

On Thursday, April 2, 2020, whispers of a 4th COVID-19 Stimulus Package began growing in the halls of the US Capitol. President Donald Trump has called for a package that would invest in the country’s infrastructure (at a time when interest rates are low). Others on Capitol Hill are looking at programs to support those in need and most impacted by the pandemic.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: April 6 - 10, 2020

In Ohio

The Ohio Legislature is NOT scheduled to be in session.

In Washington

The House and Senate calendars indicate no scheduled session for this week.

Facts That May Only Interest Me:  Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have been hiding Easter Eggs dedicated to each other’s movies in their own movies for years now. A more obvious one can be found in E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (Spielberg) during the Halloween scene, when E.T. sees a Yoda (Lucas) costume and says, “Home, home, home!” Lucas returned the favor by putting a group of E.T.s in the Galactic Senate in a scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. If you look closely at the snake room (Well of Souls) scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg), you will see there are ancient carvings of R2D2 and C3PO on the walls. Almost every Spielberg film includes some reference to Star Wars.

MY BAD: In last week's update, I inadvertently changed Dr. Amy Acton's first name to Beth. Only one of my readers caught the mistake, thankfully. But ODH Director is Amy, not Beth.