Public Policy for the People: 13 February 2017

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Volume 3, Issue 4   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   13 February 2017

Call your Representative and Senator about funding more DD Waivers and Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Today is actually an off day, meaning the Georgia General Assembly is not in session. Tomorrow, February 14 will mark the 17th Day of the Legislative Session, which means we are almost over the halfway hump. Session is really flying by and I know the last day of session, March 30, will be here sooner than perhaps we would like. Remember, if you would like to come down for a Committee meeting, you can find out the schedule at, and

Since the last issue of Public Policy for the People, GCDD has been hard at work talking with legislators in the House and Senate regarding the FY18 Big Budget. Since the Governor only added the 250 new NOW/Comp waivers required by the DOJ Extension Agreement, which means the majority of the new waivers will go towards moving people out of State Hospitals. GCDD is trying to get the Appropriation Subcommittee who is in charge of DD Waiver funding to allocate more money. We are asking for $12.1 million, which would fund at least 500 new waivers for 6 months (and then annualized in a later budget).

Any day now the House will be finalizing their Big Budget, and we wait with baited breath to find out how effective our advocacy has been. The important thing is that it is not too late to make a phone call to your legislator.  To find out who your legislator is, go to

Calling your Representative:

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am your constituent. I live in _(insert city or town)___

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list.
Additionally, people with intellectual disabilities have a right to a good education.

We need you to tell Chairman Katie Dempsey to add

1.  $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers

2.  and $300,000 for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education to the Big Budget.

Thank you.


Calling your Senator:

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am your constituent. I live in _(insert city or town)___

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list.
Additionally, people with intellectual disabilities have a right to a good education.

We need you to tell Chairman Renee Unterman to add

1.  $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers

2.  and $300,000 for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education to the Big Budget.

Thank you.

The good news though is that we have a second shot with the Senate. Once the House passes their Big Budget, it gets sent over to the Senate. The Senate then debates, makes changes, and votes on their budget. We will at this point have two different budgets -the House and Senate's. A Conference Committee will be formed to make compromises and eventually come out with one bill. Check out the Learn the Lingo Section above to learn more about Conference Committee.

Besies GCDD's Public Policy Team trolling the halls of the Gold Dome to speak with legislators about the need for more DD Waivers and more funding for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, we have also hosted 2 advocacy days so far. On February 1st we spoke about the need for more DD Waiver funding and more funding for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education. We had so many people attend that we actually ran out of chairs in Central Presbyterian during our pre-training -how exciting! February 7th also saw great turnout despite the predicted afternoon rain and we had people from all over the state in to speak with legislators about the importance of funding more DD waivers.

We also hosted a Call To Action, where advocates from around the state took time out of their busy lives to call their legislators for more funding for DD Waivers and Inclusive Post-Secondary Education. We thank all those who called in, and also want to remind all of you that your Senator and Representative work for you. That means if you have a concern about something going on in your community that you think they need to address, then you should call them!

  • You have been on the waitlist for 10 years -call them.
  • You want to get a job out in the community -call them (also call the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency).
  • You are upset about the lack of accessible transportation in your area -call them

We all live different lives, with different experiences, and so your legislator may not know about the problems you face unless you tell them. Remember, they work for you!

In other news, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has had some leadership changes. Ron Wakefield will be the new Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. We hope you will join us in welcoming him to this new role. We here at GCDD look forward to our continued close relationship with the DBHDD and continue to look for ways to better work together.

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at:

  • 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)

Advocates at the February 1st Advocacy Day met with their legislators to discuss more funding for DD Waivers and Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Our Partner's Advocacy Days (we share a common legislative goal)

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

Other Events

While GCDD is a non-partisan agency, meaning we don't endorse or support any specific political party, we do want to share with you a disability event that we believe will be of interest to many of our readers.  The Democratic National Committee Disability Council will be meeting on Thursday, February 23, 2:00pm to 3:00pm at The Westin Peachtree Plaza, 210 Peachtree Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303. Tony Coelho, who during his time in the US House of Representatives sponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act, will be in attendance. For more details, click here.

Teach In - Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases.  February 21 at 7:00 to 9:00 pm at St Bartholomew's Episcopal Church located at 1790 Lavista Rd, Atlanta, GA 30329. Come learn about why people with intellectual disabilities are still being executed in Georgia despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is against the constitution to execute people with intellectual disabilities for their crimes.

NOW Waiver Public Forum:
As some of you may know, the NOW waiver is up for renewal in September of 2017. The Department of Community Health and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, will be holding public forums to allow advocates such as ourselves to make recommendations for how the NOW waiver could be improved. To register to click here. It is very important that advocates show up and voice their opinions.

  • March 1 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
  • March 6 - 7:00 to 8:00pm (Virtual Forum)
  • March 8 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at Clarence Brown Conference Center, Cartersville
  • March 9 - 11:00am to Noon (Virtual Forum)
  • March 13 - 1:00 to 3:00pm at Gwinnett Tech/Busbee Center, Lawrenceville

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.
  • 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. - Feb 13, Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

yea and nay

  • Yea and Nay - No, this isn't the Georgia General Assembly getting lazy and embracing modern day slang. They refer to a legislator's vote, yea for yes and nay for no. Also called Ayes and Nays.
  • Conference Committee - A special committee made up of three Senators and three Representatives, formed when the Senate and the House pass two different versions of the same bill. The committee meets and works towards reaching an agreement. Once they reach an agreement, the Senate and the House must vote on the new bill. Only if both the Senate and House pass the comprise bill will the bill makes its way to the Governors' desk.

New Bills to Watch

As always, for a complete list of bills we are tracking, click here.

A few to draw your attention to though.

HB 43: The Amended FY17 Budget passed the Senate. The House and Senate will now enter into Conference to comprise on their differences. To see where they differed, click here.

HB 65: Low THC Oil Patient Registry: Widens the criteria of who is allowed to use Low THC Oil, a form of medical marijuana, in Georgia, to include autism spectrum disorder, intractable pain, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, and HIV/AIDS. Additionally, the bill would remove the one-year residency requirement and physician's quarterly reporting. (Peake)

HB 154: Dental Hygienists Bill, which would allow dental hygienists to perform routine functions, such as teeth cleanings, in settings like community centers or nursing facilities, without a dentist being present. (Cooper)-Passed the House on February 10

HB 206: This would remove the exception currently in place relating to certain audits conducted by the Department of Community Health, so as to provide that clerical or other errors do not constitute a basis to recoup payments made by providers of medical assistance (Kelley).

HB 233: This would require handicap car decals to include a picture of the person using the handicap decal. (Marin).

HB 241: Cove's Law, this would add Krabbe disease to the list of metabolic and genetic conditions for which newborn screening may be conducted. Krabbe disease is identified as something that may result in a developmental disability. (Hawkins)

HB 343: Changing MR to ID in the Official Code of Georgia. (Hilton) - This is one of the UNLOCK! Coalition's priority issues, and we are very excited to monitor its progress.

SB 12: The Senate's version of the Dental Hygienists Bill. (Unterman). - Passed the Senate on February 10.

SB 53 would require all commercial venues that hold at least 1,000 people to install one adult changing station for a person with a disability. Historic structures or anything smaller than 1,000 people would be exempt. (Seay)

SB 118 -Will raise insurance coverage age for those with autism to age 21. (Unterman)

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bil

Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, public policy