This Week in Public Policy: September 20 - 24, 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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Click here to read updates from previous weeks.

In Ohio

On Tuesday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held PROPONENT Testimony on House Bill 140 (Property Tax Levies). The committee heard testimony in support of the bill from Jeff Dillon (Americans for Prosperity), Dan Acton (Ohio Real Estate Investors Association), Tim Williams (Ohio Manufactured Homes Association) and David Graham (County Auditors Association).

On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, the Senate Transportation Committee heard SPONSOR Testimony on House Bill 31 (Accessible Parking). The bill would make a variety of changes to Ohio’s laws related to accessible parking, including increased penalties for multiple offenses, and creating a citizen reporting program to increase enforcement. State Representative Scott Wiggam testified the bill was intended to crack down on abuses.

On Thursday, September 23, 2021, the House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee heard both SPONSOR and PROPONENT Testimony on Senate Bill 58 (Esther’s Law – Cameras in Long-Term Care Facilities). The chief proponent of the bill, Steve Piskor, testified in support, explaining the camera would prevent abuse of loved ones in long-term care facilities. The committee also received written testimony from multiple supporters.

On Thursday, September 23rd, 2021, the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee met at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Finance Hearing Room. The committee will heard testimony from Medicaid providers on their interactions with managed care plans. The hearing included testimony from Pete Van Runkle of the Ohio Health Care Association, an association of providers that serve people with developmental disabilities. During open testimony, Van Runkle commented his members have looked to reducing services because they don’t have enough people to work, particularly in small, 4-bed facilities. 

In Washington

On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, the US House of Representatives passed HR5305, a continuing resolution to provide for federal appropriations to continue through December 3, 2021. The federal fiscal year ends on September 30th, and Congress must pass appropriations bills or a continuing resolution to avoid a federal government shutdown.

On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, the Senate Finance Committee, Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy held a hearing to examine policy options for improving Supplemental Security Income. Subcommittee Chair Sherrod Brown stated in his opening statement that income and resource limits for SSI had not been addressed by Congress for nearly 25 years. Senator Brown states the eligibility rules haven’t been updated since 1987, forcing many individuals with disabilities and elderly to live below the poverty line. The hearing is chock full of good information and insight into the intent of the Subcommittee to pursue changes related to SSI, and is worth the hour of time to watch (committee starts at the 20:16 mark). 

NEXT Week in Public Policy: September 27 - October 1, 2021

In Ohio

On Tuesday, September 28, 2021, the House Civil Justice Committee will hold SPONSOR Testimony on House Bill 352 (Custody/Visitation – Can’t Use Disability to Deny/Reduce). The bill would prohibit a person’s disability from being the determining factor in a guardianship, custody, adoption or other caregiving role. The hearing will take place at 3:00 p.m. in Hearing Room 121 of the Ohio Statehouse.

On Wednesday, September 29, 2021, the Senate Health Committee will hold PROPONENT Testimony on House Bill 122 (Telehealth Services). The bill expands the types of services that can be offered via telemedicine to include services offered by psychologists, audiologists and speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists and assistants, social workers, chemical dependency counselors and others. The hearing will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the North Hearing Room of the Ohio Senate Building.

On Thursday, September 30, 2021, the House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee will hold ALL Testimony on Senate Bill 58 (Esther’s Law – Cameras in Long Term Care Facilities). The bill would allow individuals to install cameras to monitor a family member in a long-term-care facility. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in Hearing Room 116 of the Ohio Statehouse. 

In Washington

On Saturday, September 25, 2021, the House Budget Committee will meet to consider final reconciliation package to be voted on early next week. The hearing will be conducted via Zoom and will begin at 2:00 p.m.

The House and Senate are expected to finalize/vote on some version of the Build Back Better Reconciliation Package, including the Infrastructure Bill. Expect next week to be interesting. 

Facts That May Only Interest Me

In Sweden, a wedding custom is for all the women to line up and kiss the groom should the bride leave the room, or if the groom leaves the room, all the men should line up and kiss the bride. A Hindu woman born during the astrological period when both Mars and Saturn are under the seventh house suggests a quarrelsome marriage that will end in early widowhood. To break that curse, the bride must first marry a tree (yes, a TREE), then cut it down. A custom called Polterabend in Germany requires wedding guests to break a bunch of porcelain outside of the bride’s house and requires the bride and groom to clean it up the morning of their wedding, thus teaching them how to get through hardships in their marriage. In India, the bride’s female relatives participate in a ritual call Joota Chupai which involves them stealing the groom’s shoos and demanding ransom money for their return.