NPND received a copy of the Staff Discussion Draft of the IDEA Improvement Act of 1997 from the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities. It should be noted that House leaders plan to introduce the bill early in the Congressional session. Many disabilities advocacy groups are urging more time to gain input before the bill is introduced. They feel that sufficient time must be made available to develop bipartisan support for this important legislation.
As promised, the Staff Discussion Draft is “silent” on the issue of cessation of services. This issue, of course, still worries many disabilities advocates, along with a number of other issues from the bill that was passed by the House in 1996.
In January, I will become Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources committee for the 105th Congress. For me, this is a dream come true. I have devoted my 22 years in Congress to working on the very issues before the committee. The challenges are great, but I hope our success will be greater.
As you know, the Labor and Human Resources Committee today has subcommittees that deal with issues related to aging; children and families; disability policy; and education, arts and humanities. Health care issues are considered at the full committee level.
In the new congress, the committee will retain its subcommittees on aging, as well as on children and families. Two new subcommittees will be formed, one responsible for public health and safety, the other responsible for policy will be addressed at the full committee level. The first reauthorization hearing before the full committee in 1997 will be on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Success in this new role will only be possible with help and ideas from you and organizations such as the National Parent Network. We were able to enact P.L. 94-142 in my first term in the House, and the ADA in my first term in the Senate, only by working together. But I know that communication must be a two-way street, which is why I wanted to share with you the new committee structure for the 105th Congress.
I look forward to working with you and the members of the National Parent Network on disability legislation during the year ahead. I hope I can count on your support.
s: James M. Jeffords
The new welfare law changes children’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). As a result, some children—especially those with mental, emotional and behavior problems—will lose the SSI cash benefits they now receive. Some will also lose their Medicaid. The new law will also make it harder for children to qualify for SSI in the future. Parents should be sure to respond to any notices that their child’s case will be reviewed. For an information sheet describing the changes and review process surrounding SSI, please contact NPND, or Marty Ford at the Arc Governmental Affairs Office; 1730 K St., #1212, Washington, DC 20006; firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail)
On Wednesday, January 8, the U.S. Supreme court will hear arguments in favor of killing people with disabilities — for our own good. Not Dead Yet will lead a vigil of 20,000 Americans at the foot of the Supreme Court steps at ten o’clock that morning to let the Court know that we want to live, that we won’t die quietly. For information contact Not Dead Yet; 61 Brighton St.; Rochester, NY 14607; fax 716-244-9798
In early December, a federal judge ruled that the school system in Loudon County, Virginia must teach Mark Hartmann, an 11-year-old boy with autism, in regular classrooms. This two-year battle has won national attention, and ends with a victory for mainstreaming. Copies of the court decision are available from NPND.