Public Policy for the People: Special Edition - Dec 21, 2016

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Special Edition   •   2017 Legislative Primer   •   December 21, 2016

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Hello Advocates and Allies,

The first day of the legislative session, January 9, is fast approaching. We hope you are getting as excited as we are to take the Gold Dome by storm this year. To help get you up to speed, we are releasing our 2017 Legislative Primer edition of Public Policy for the People. Once session starts, you can expect to receive a copy every other Monday. You are receiving this because you had previously indicated your interest via our online Advocacy Network. We are always trying to grow our reach, so please feel free to forward this to all of your friends and have them sign up to receive the latest edition straight to their inbox. Visit to sign up.

This year we will be hosting six Advocacy Days. We hope you will join us down under the Gold Dome to speak with your legislator. Registration information is below.  

See you in a few short weeks,   The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at:

  • Jan 18 – Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Advocacy Day
  • Feb 1 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 1
  • Feb 7 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 2
  • Feb 23 – Employment Advocacy Day
  • Feb 28 – Enable Work and Families Advocacy Day (Family Care Act, Peach Work, and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program)
  • March 9 – Home & Community Advocacy Day (Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry, People First Language, Residential Housing Study Committee, Transportation)

GCDD has a lot of friends hosting Advocacy Days on issues important to our community. We encourage you to come out and show your support for our friends. 

  • Jan 19 – Senior Day (GA Council on Aging)
  • Jan 25 - Sickle Cell Day (Sickle Cell Foundation of GA)
  • Jan 31 - Mental Health Day (GA Parent Support Network)
  • Feb 2 – Justice Day at the Capitol (GA Justice Project)
  • Feb 3 – Alzheimer’s Awareness Day (Alzheimer’s Association, GA Chapter)
  • Feb 8 – Stop Violence Against Women Day (GA Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
  • Feb 14 – Change the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases (PAPE Coalition and Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty)
  • Feb 15 –Interfaith Children’s Movement Day at the Capitol 
  • Feb 15 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging)
  • Feb 16 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging) 
  • Feb 21 - Catholic Day at the Capitol 
  • Feb 23 – Hemophilia of GA Day  (Hemophilia of GA)
  • Feb 28 – Anti-Sex Trafficking Lobby Day (City of Refuge, Freedom Coalition, GA Cares, Haven ATL, Out of Darkness, Street Grace, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Wellspring Living)
  • Mar 9 –Lupus Awareness Day (Lupus Foundation of America, GA Chapter) • Mar 16 –Type 1 Diabetes Day (JRDF)

If you know of an Advocacy Day that our readers might be interested in learning about, please email Include your name, contact information, time, date, sponsoring organization, and summary of purpose for holding the event. 

Keep up to date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357. First Call is January 9! - Note that due to MLK Day, call scheduled for Jan 16 will occur Jan 17
  • Join our Advocacy Network at
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Jan 17, Jan 30, Feb 13, Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

  • Dropped – It’s actually a good thing. A bill is dropped when it is assigned a number and gets sent to committee. Until a bill is dropped, nothing can get done. 
  • Working the Ropes – No we aren’t playing jump rope. Because the legislator’s offices are roped off, you must wait by the ropes in front of the office to speak with them. 
  • Page – Not just something you find in a book, a Page is a messenger, usually a student, who will let your legislator know you are ready to speak with them at the ropes!

Be in the Know:

Brush up on GCDD’s 2017 Legislative Priorities

Led by GCDD

We Need More DD Waivers – Budget Ask 
Currently in GA, the waitlist for NOW/COMP waivers has 8,698 individuals with developmental disabilities waiting desperately for the level of care and services they need and for which they have already qualified.

  • Fund at least 2470 NOW (80%) /COMP (20%) waivers to reduce Georgia’s longest waiting list and allow more individuals to begin to receive services. $33,058,273

Employment First
Employment First means that employment should be the first and preferred option for all people, regardless of their disability. Under Employment First legislation, employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage is the first and preferred option for all working age citizens with disabilities. Under Employment First policy, state agencies will need to re-align their policies and funding to prioritize employment for all working-age Georgians with disabilities.

  • Support legislation that addresses employment barriers for people with disabilities, makes Georgia an Employment First state, and prioritizes competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. 

Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) – Budget Ask
IPSE provides opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to access higher education. This education prepares them to live increasingly independent lives and pursue careers of their choice. Graduates from IPSE programs are more likely to find employment and earn 73% more than their peers who do not receive post-secondary education. 

  • Support the sustainability of IPSE programs in GA and increase student access to these programs. Increase legislative funding from $200,000 to $500,000 in total, $100,000 of which can be student scholarships. The FY 2018 ASK for new funding: $300,000.

Children’s Freedom Initiative: Bring Georgia’s Children Home:

  • Support efforts to ensure all children have a permanent loving home. Support legislation to prevent young Georgians under the age of 22 from being placed in intermediate care or nursing facilities. Provide funding for all of the Georgians with disabilities under the age of 22 who are currently living in facilities to move into permanent loving homes an

Supported by GCDD but led by other partners

Support Georgians Who Care For Their Families: The Family Care Act

  • Enables Georgians who have earned sick leave to use up to five days of that leave to care for sick family members.
  • Contact: or visit 

Change the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases
The US Supreme Court said it is wrong to execute a person with an intellectual disability in 2002 because of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. GA is the only state that requires a person to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have an intellectual disability in capital punishment cases. This is very difficult to prove. 

  • Change the legal standard of proof for proving intellectual disabilities in O.C.G.A to “preponderance of the evidence,” which is the standard used in most other states. 
  • Contact: Dorinda Tatum at

Support the Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry
This registry would allow employers of direct care workers to have a better way to screen potential employees and may deter abusers. 

 Support Enable Work

  • The creation of the Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program, a sliding fee scale program for workers with disabilities to pay a cost share that would allow them to access Personal Assistant Services to maintain their independence.
  • The creation of PeachWork, a program whose purpose is to provide people with disabilities who are working the opportunity to earn as much as they can and accumulate savings while maintaining needed health coverage.
  • Contact: Shelly Simmons of the Statewide Independent Living Council at or 770-270-6860

SPADD Housing Study Committee
Social Security income is the only resource to many individuals with developmental disabilities to pay for housing.

  • A legislative study of residential care costs and exploration of funding to support I/DD organizations to bridge the gap between an individual’s Social Security income and the cost of housing is necessary.
  • Contact: Julianna McConnell of the Service Providers Association for Developmental Disabilities at or 770.713.1249

People First Legislation
GA is one of a few states that still uses language in policy that conveys negative or derogatory perceptions about people with disabilities. Appropriate substitute language is recommended along with the use of terminology that “puts the person before the disability.”

Around Town with UNLOCK

2017 marks the first year the UNLOCK! Coalition has unveiled its own shared agenda, as voted upon by coalition members. Keep up to date on coalition issues and alerts through reading Public Policy for the People. 

The 2017 UNLOCK Legislative Priorities Are:

1. DD Waiver Funding
2. Employment
3. Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry 
4. SPADD Housing Study Committee
5. People First Legislation
6. Transportation
The Georgia Accessible Transportation Coalition advocates for accessible transportation including sidewalks and public transportation across the state.
• Contact Drew Walker of the American Wheelchair Society at or 404.919.6178

Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, public policy