APRIL 14, 2000                                                                             NO. 182 (1 of 2)


Reauthorization of the DD Act
MiCASSA - S. 1935
Fairness and Accuracy in Student Testing Act - S. 2348
Weakening Discipline Amendments to IDEA


Last week, NPND reported on an amendment to the Budget Resolution offered by Senator James Jeffords (R-VT) that would provide full funding for IDEA. NPND fully supports Senator Jeffords' amendment, which provides a way to fully fund IDEA without using large portions of school districts budgets.

The Jeffords amendment to the budget would allow Congress to fully fund IDEA over a five year period. The State Grant program within IDEA currently receives $5 billion. Estimates by the Congressional Research Service suggest that the program needs to be funded at $15.8 billion each year to meet the targets established in 1975 and reaffirmed in each of the past three Congresses. In order to meet this target within the five year window covered by the budget resolution, the proposal would increase funding for IDEA annually in roughly two billion increments each of the next five years. In order to protect the Social Security and on-budget Surplus, these increases would be offset by corresponding decreases in the allocation for tax cuts.

Vote by US Senate on Jeffords Amendment

Following are excerpts from a press release on the Jeffords amendment to the Budget Resolution.

"On Tuesday, April 11 2000, Senator Jeffords tried to move the federal government one step closer to meeting its obligation of fully funding its share of special education. Unfortunately, the US Senate voted to water down Jeffords' proposal to the Budget Resolution currently under consideration. Jeffords' amendment would have mandated that the federal government increase spending for special education by $2 billion each year for five years. The amendment would have raised federal special education funding from $5 billion per year to close to $16 billion per year.

The Senate approved on a 53 to 47 vote, a substitute amendment to Jeffords' proposal making it a non-binding Sense of the Senate resolution to fully fund special education. "In 1975 we made a commitment to fully fund IDEA. If 25 years later we cannot meet this commitment, in an era of unprecedented economic prosperity and budgetary surpluses, when do we plan to keep this pledge? The American people have a right to ask us--If not now, when?," said Jeffords.

"I am disappointed that my amendment was watered down," said Jeffords ."But the good news is that the Senate has again gone on the record in support of fully funding special education. I will continue to fight for what I believe is the most important education issue before this nation.  This issue won't go away and neither will I."


* Reauthorization of the DD Act
The Senate version, S. 1809 of the Reauthorization of the Developmental Disabilities Act of 1999, is still in the House Commerce Committee. The Chairman of the Commerce Committee, Representative Thomas Bliley, Jr. (R-VA) has not made a commitment to consider the DD Act during this session of Congress.

Contact Chairman Bliley, as well as members of the House Commerce Committee and urge immediate action to adopt the Senate version, S. 1809, of the DD Act.

www.house.gov  Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 Bliley: P-202-225-2815, F-202-225-0011, tom.bliley@mail.house.gov 

* Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act of 1999 - S. 1935 (MiCASSA)
MiCASSA was introduced in the Senate by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and cosponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). This legislation will reform Medicaid's entitlement to nursing homes and allow people the choice of receiving services in their own homes and communities.


Contact your Senators and urge them to support S. 1935. With the recent attacks on Title II of the ADA in the Supreme Court it is more important than ever to push for MiCASSA.


www.senate.gov  / Capitol Switchboard 202 224-3121

* Fairness and Accuracy in Student Testing Act, S. 2348
S. 2348, introduced by Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), will require states, districts to use multiple measures for decisions about graduation, promotion, placement; Standardized tests cannot be the only measure. It states that "tests must provide appropriate accommodations for students with limited English proficiency and disabilities." For more information on this bill access the Senator's webpage: www.senate.gov/~wellstone  Click on What's New?.

* Weakening Discipline Amendments to IDEA
Representatives Charles Norwood (R-GA) and Jim Talent (R-MO) both offered amendments to the Education Opportunities To Protect and Invest In Our Nation's Students (Education OPTIONS) Act, H.R. 4141, a bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Act. The Norwood amendment concerns the discipline of students with disabilities who carry or possess weapons. The Talent amendment empowers school administrators to enforce a strong zero tolerance policy for any student who brings violence or illegal drugs into schools. Access the NPND website for more information on these amendments.

Contact Representatives Norwood and Talent, as well as your own Representative and oppose any weakening amendments to IDEA.


Norwood (P 202-225-4101, F 202-226-5995, ga10@legislators.com 
Talent (P 202-225-2561, F 202-225-2563, rep.talent@mail.house.gov )
www.house.gov  / Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

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