Public Policy for the People: 27 March 2017

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 7   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   27 March 2017

Call your State Senator and tell them to vote yes on HB343.

Next week we will release our Post-Legislative Wrap Up Edition.

Stay tuned for date & time of our Legislative Wrap Up Phone Call.

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip Modesitt

Good public transportation means people can get somewhere safe and sound. Good transportation also means that it does not limit them to where they can go. Good public transportation is important to me because people with disabilities need good public transportation that is accessible to all. Good public transportation also means I can get to where I need to go because what if I lived in Buckhead and needed to get to school or work in Kennesaw, I would need to take accessible transportation. Good transportation needs to be reliable because people with disabilities need to get to school and work on time.  

Bad transportation really affects people because many rely on it to live their everyday lives. I think there are some ways that transportation could be improved. For instance, I think there could be a lot more buses, which would help reduce travel time and not run into any travel snags. I would also like to ensure that all buses are handicap accessible so that no one is excluded.

– Phillip James Modesitt

I recently asked Phillip why transportation is so important. Drew Walker, of American Wheelchair Society, is working to form a Transportation Coalition here in Georgia. If you are interested in joining the transportation coalition, you can contact Drew at 404.919.6178 or

Be in the Know: Only 2 legislative days to go

Only two days to go until the 2017 Legislative Session comes to an end for the 2017 year. Midnight on Thursday will see the gavel fall for the last time this year. Bleary eyed legislators, lobbyists, and staffers will say goodbye to the Gold Dome and head back to their Georgia homes, whether that be Tifton, Valdosta, or Blue Ridge.
In the past two weeks, the General Assembly has passed countless bills, eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches courtesy of the GA Peanut Commission celebrating Peanut Butter and Jelly Day at the Capitol, and dealt with a lockdown of the Gold Dome due to suspicious green goo.

FY 2018 Big Budget. Status: Waiting for the Governor's signature. Conference Committee ended on March 22, producing a budget that the House and Senate can both agree on it. The Senate and House have both voted and passed the Conference Budget. It now awaits the Governor's signature. Governor Deal has 40 days after Sine Die to act on the budget (May 9). Remember Governor Deal has the power of line item veto. Of note:

  • Inclusive Post-Secondary Education: The House had recommended transferring $175,000 out of GCDD's budget to GVRA to support Inclusive Post Secondary Education, allowing the money to take advantage of GVRA's 4:1 federal match. The Senate recommended that the amount transferred decrease to $125,000. Conference committee decided upon $175,00 being transferred from GCDD to GVRA. Exciting bit, the language around the number of scholarship was removed. In sum, total IPSE funding going to GVRA is $500,000 which may allow for a total up to $2.5 million, including federal draw down.

    • Of note, language was added attached to this item, stating GCDD will "recognize Memorandum of Understanding with GVRA to maintain council's active participation in the IPSE partnership."

  • Some language was added in DBHDD's section, stating "the department shall develop and report to the Georgia General Assembly on a multi-year plan to reduce and eliminate the waiting list for NOW and COMP waivers with yearly outcome measures by December 31, 2017."

The Family Care Act, SB 201, passed the House March 22 with a vote of 114 Yay, 51 Nay, 5 NV, and 10 Exc. Due to SB 201 having an amendment in the House, it will need to go back to the Senate for a vote of Agree/Disagree. While this is exciting news, GCDD will not relax until SB 201 is signed into law by the Governor.

HB 343, updating Georgia Code to reflect intellectual disability instead of the offensive MR language, cleared Rules Committee this afternoon. Thank you to everyone who took time to call their Senators. Remember, HB 343 must still have a full Floor Vote in the Senate before returning to the House for a vote of Agree/Disagree due to a change made, before it will finally make its way to the Governor's desk.

GCDD hosted a webinar two weeks ago to discuss the impact of the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) currently being discussed in Congress. We had 197 people on the webinar, learning how block grants and per capita caps would be detrimental to Georgia. We were thrilled with the high level of participation and great questions that were asked. We hope to host more webinars in the future. Please send us any suggestions you have for future topics.

GCDD sent a group of Council Members and staff to Washington DC last week for the 2017 Disability Policy Seminar. While in Washington DC, the Georgia group attended sessions to learn more about the policy issues facing Americans with disabilities, as well as spent time in the US Capitol Building meeting with US Representatives and US Senators from Georgia. GCDD spoke about their concerns over the proposed healthcare changes found in the American Health Care Act (AHCA), especially around the Medicaid cuts caused by block grants/per capita caps. If you want to learn more about how the AHCA would impact Georgians with disabilities, visit,, or It is thanks to advocates such as yourself that Congress has chosen not to hold a vote on the American Health Care Act. Despite winning this round, we will be watching the federal healthcare landscape closely in the coming year.

Finally, GCDD joined with parent advocates last Friday at an event hosted by Representative Valencia Stovall to discuss HB 614, the Landon Dunson Act, which passed last year and allows for cameras to be placed in self-contained special needs classrooms in Georgia. Importantly, HB 614 does not require schools to put cameras in place, but does create a system by which they can be utilized. Representative Stovall and parents met to discuss how parents can better advocate for cameras to be placed in their children's self-contained classrooms. As one parent said, it's not just about keeping children from being abused, but also for keeping teachers from being falsely accused. We look forward to working with parents from the around the state in raising their voices in their local school districts.

Learn the Lingo

40 days: It will come as no shock to you, our readers, to know that Georgia's legislative session only lasts for 40 days. They can be continuous or spread out, but they will only meet officially for 40 day each year. Of course, the Governor can call a special session, but that rarely happens.  By only meeting for 40 legislative days, GA legislators can maintain jobs outside of the session. This is much harder to do when you meet continuously throughout the year, such as in the US Congress.

Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, public policy