public policy - Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

2014 Listening Tour

 

listeningtours2014daltonFINAL 2Please click the image to download the flyer.
The 2014 GCDD Listening Tour,
sponsored by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), is designed to interact and engage with the various communities around Georgia to hear what they have to say. The tour invites people with disabilities, advocates, caretakers, and anyone who wants to have their voice heard by our public policy team. As we go around Georgia and meet with you, we want to hear what's on your mind that can help shape our legislative advocacy.

Please join us for our next 2014 Listening Tour

When: Monday, October 13, 6 - 8 PM
Where:Dalton State College
             Upper Level of Pope Student Center

Who should attend:
Folks with disabilities and all those who care about them.
Why:Share what's on your mind with our public policy team & help shape our legislative advocacy. If you want to see change, we want to see you there!
RSVP:404-657-2126 or

Bring your favorite potluck dish to share!

2018 Take Your Legislator to Work Day

GCDD HPBanner TYLTW 2018
2018 Take Your Legislator to Work Day

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is excited to announce the return of Take Your Legislator to Work Day! This month-long event coincides with NDEAM, which is celebrating its 70th anniversiary with the 2018 theme America's Workforce: Empowering All. The goal of Take Your Legislator To Work Day is to show the far reaching benefits to employers, employees and communities alike of hiring people with disabilities as well as to create opportunities for Georgians with disabilities to form and nurture relationships with their elected officials.

GCDD's Take Your Legislator to Work Day is an opportunity for employees with disabilities to invite their legislator(s) tovisit them at work. Any Georgian who is employed in an integrated setting and who identifies as having a disability is encouraged to apply. We believe that visiting an employee at work is the best way to show legislators that people with disabilities want to workand are as capable as anyone at working in real jobs for real wages. We also believe your elected officials will best undersand the positive impact of publically funded employment supports if they see those in action.

(Registration is NOW CLOSED)

Take Your Legislator to Work Day is open to any person with a disability that lives in Georgia and works in a community integrated setting earning at or above minimum wage.

Area disabled residents want better services

People with disabilities in the Gainesville area expressed a desire for better quality services and support at a meeting Thursday with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. The meeting was one of several statewide stops on the council's "listening tour" leading up to the 2015 General Assembly. Council leaders asked questions and provided information for a small group gathered at the Lanier Charter Career Academy.

"We are an independent state agency and our mission is, in the informal way I always say it, we're trying to kick the can or move the ball further for folks with disabilities and their families," said D'Arcy Robb, GCDD public policy director. Robb said she typically poses questions to the public at the listening tour meetings to stimulate discussion.

Her first question asked, "What's working in this community for people with disabilities and their families?"

Dr. Irma Alvarado, Brenau University professor and co-owner of Essential Therapy Services Inc. in Cumming, said she thinks what works for people with disabilities in Gainesville is "variable." "It depends on what you know, what's in your community," Alvarado said. "... There are some people out there looking for opportunities, but they have to look."

The second question Robb posed asked what the audience believes is not working.

Jennifer Allison, clinical instructor at Brenau University, said most people don't know what services are available locally. Others expressed concerns over the quality of services, educational opportunities, transportation to and from services and job opportunities.

"The thing we hear a lot of is jobs," Robb said. "People with disabilities want to work real jobs in the community and they just aren't getting the support they need to do that." Robb said she often hears people express a general desire to change the way the community views people with disabilities.

"One thing we hear a lot is essentially changing the culture," Robb said. "Not looking at people with a disability as first and foremost that disability.... So just being more supportive and embracing as a society, seeing people as a whole package for who they are and not just stigmatizing them for this disability or that diagnosis."

Robb said the most important part of the meeting is listening to the public. She said not only does it help give the council an idea of what Georgians with disabilities are looking for, but it lets people know they are being heard. "People have said that they appreciate, No. 1, being listened to, and us coming out in person," Robb said. "I think people appreciate that opportunity to have a community forum and have a voice."

Dawn Alford, advocate and GCDD policy development specialist, encouraged local residents to join the council's advocacy network at www.gcdd.org. "Our team focuses on advocacy, trying to push the system's change," Alford said. "In order to do that, we need the help of grass-roots advocates, people in their communities reaching out to their own legislators."

By Kristen Oliver


The original article appeared in The Gainesville Times on September 5, 2014.

Disability group to address legislative policy during visit

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities will stop in Gainesville today to hear from people living with disabilities.

Representatives including D'Arcy Robb, the council's public policy director, and Dawn Alford, policy development specialist, at 6 p.m. will be at Lanier Charter Career Academy on Tumbling Creek Road to hear from people with disabilities regarding the 2015 legislative agenda for the council.

Council leaders hope to hear concerns, ideas and opinions from the public, according to a news release. The stop is one of several on a statewide tour leading to the 2015 General Assembly, which begins in January.

Approximately 20 percent of Americans have a disability due to birth, injury or longevity, according to the news release. The council is a federally funded, independent state agency that promotes and creates opportunities for people with disabilities through public policy initiatives, public awareness and advocacy programs.

For more information, visit www.gcdd.org.

This article originally appeared in The Gainesville Times on September 4, 2014.

GCDD IMPACT: The Fam Squad

Sometimes, when you go to college, you get lucky enough to find a new set of friends, people who will almost certainly be your friends for the rest of your life. That is definitely true of “The Fam Squad.” They hit it off the first week they met. Now, they hang out when they’re not in class, often going to lunch, the library, and the student center together.

When Les McBride, De’onte Brown and Mandel Montilus started attending the IDEAL program at Georgia State University, they knew immediately they felt lucky not only to be in school, but most especially to have found each other. IDEAL, Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy, is a new inclusive two-year program at GSU that accepted their first students with intellectual disabilities in Fall 2016.

Students enroll in or audit courses offered by GSU colleges and academic departments; complete work-study and intern-ship experiences related to media, communications and/or the arts; and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities on campus.

The young men of “The Fam Squad” are three of the five students currently enrolled in IDEAL. Spenser Norris, a trained special education teacher and clinical rehabilitation counselor, is the University Inclusion Coordinator. She says they are hoping to grow the program to ten students in Fall 2018, as well as establish a dual enrollment program with DeKalb County. Much like other inclusive postsecondary education programs, they rely on the support of peer mentors who have similar interests and career goals as the program participants. Peer mentors are recruited from the Honors College and other parts of the University and volunteer 5-10 hours a week to assist with going to class, study skills and finding social opportunities. 

The Fam SquadLes, De’onte and Mandel are all studying in different programs that loosely relate under the theme of creative and new media.Les, De’onte, and Mandel are all studying in different programs that loosely relate under the theme of creative and new media. Les would like to become a music producer in the recording industry. Mandel hopes to be a game designer. De’onte is a film student with a penchant for horror.

Aspiring filmmaker De’onte, 22, has an intellectual disability and developmental delay. He remembers the first time he fell in love with films. He was watching something one day and just started wondering about how much time it had taken them to make all the parts of it. It made him curious about the process. His favorite scary movie is Happy Death Day. “These types of movies just make me feel more alive,” he says. 

De’onte has a twin brother who is in the Army, currently serving in Poland. They video chat weekly, but he really misses him because it’s been more than a year since they’ve seen each other in person. For his final project, De’onte wants to make a documentary about the IDEAL program.

Mandel, the game designer, is a 23-year-old man with autism spectrum disorder and speech and language disorder. Mandel’s peer mentors, Teymbi and Kat, help him stay focused on his game designs and ideas. His original inspiration for gaming was Pokémon. He shows us a version of a Pokéball he’s doodled on his hand. You can find some games he’s working on at an experimental website called Twinery.org. He says the thing he likes most about games is being the champion.

Les, the music producer, is 19. He has mild intellectual disability and specific learning disorder. Growing up with the music of T.I., Li’l Wayne and other Atlanta-based hip-hop artists, his favorite song is “I’m Still Here” by T.I. He thinks it has a great motivational message to follow. No matter what circumstances you come from or what’s happened to you, you’ve got to keep doing your work and keep going. Les has lost important people in his life like his grandparents, and he’s an only child. Sometimes he’s felt isolated, but he feels it’s important to stay positive. He wants to put out work through his music that encourages people to stop violence.

Each member of The Fam Squad talks us through the process of applying to be in the IDEAL program. They said that it took a lot of paperwork and an interview at the IDEAL office. They all remember the interview vividly, how they had to speak about their dreams and aspirations. For each of them, the day they found out they’d gotten into the program was also a day they’ll never forget. “It was the best day of my life!” is a sentiment echoed by each of them.

None of these young men currently have Medicaid waivers, and they have no plans to apply at this time. This underscores why support for a program of this nature is important, as the need for NOW/COMP waivers is diminished for IPSE (inclusive post secondary education) alumni as many are gainfully employed, receiving employee benefits, and are therefore less dependent on state resources. Another IDEAL student has stated many times that “Without IDEAL, he would be sitting at home bored and feeling like he is missing out.”

Storytelling PepperThe Fam Squad show off the robot, Pepper, who can dance and will ask for a selfie at Creative Media Industries Institute.

Often young adults with intellectual disabilities find themselves isolated when they do not belong to a community of peers, often feeling misunderstood, or eventually feeling like it is not worth the effort to make friends or try new things. Like many young people who may feel isolated, this phenomenon can lead to depression, anxiety, or people existing in unhealthy relationship with others to fulfill a need for belonging.

As a part of their program, they’ve had an opportunity to participate in advocacy, going to the State Capitol to speak to legislators about the IDEAL program. If we brought an elected official in to be a part of the conversation we were having, they would want them to know how excellent their program is so they could have more students “join the college life, to see what all the fuss is about!”

Les says, “There’s a lot of kids that need help and want to do better, and do better things.” He talks about people who have disabilities wanting to change, as well as school shootings and how much fear there is. When we ask everyone what they want people in general to know, De’onte says “I want them to know that they can be anything they want to be.”

With that, the guys take us on a tour of the Creative Media Industries Institute. They show us the robot, Pepper, who can dance and will ask you if you want to take a selfie with her. At the end of our time, they led us back to the IDEAL office, which has a common area with posters, pictures and quotes from retreats and meetings they’ve had together in the past. As we say goodbye, the group is ready to try the hot dog place that’s just opened up around the corner. It is Friday after all.

This story is a part of the GCDD Storytelling Project. It was written by Shannon M. Turner and photographed by Lynsey Weatherspoon. Read the extended story on www.gcdd.org.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


Download pdf version of Making a Difference Fall 2018    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Fall 2018

 

Include College Campaign Brings Focus to Programs for Students with Disabilities

by Devika Rao

Include College is the newest campaign launched by the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC) to bring attention to nine inclusive college programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) across Georgia.

Currently, the following universities, colleges and technical colleges have inclusive programs in Georgia: University of Georgia, Columbus State University, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, East Georgia State College, Albany Technical College, University of West Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology and Kennesaw State University.

Project WOLVESProject WOLVES at University of West Georgia is the newest inclusive college program in Georgia

There are 140 students enrolled in the nine programs, but plans are to grow exponentially. “The goal of this campaign is for parents, students, family members and educators to include college in a student’s transition planning as an option after high school,” said Susanna Miller-Raines, statewide coordinator for GAIPSEC.

Include College is a clearing house that allows parents, students and other stakeholders to receive complete information on the college programs and steps to include in planning for life after high school. This includes understanding all of the colleges’ different offerings, how to plan for college options throughout the student’s K-12 career and various agencies and organizations that can support parents through the process.

Georgia’s college programs are inclusive in campus life and academic offerings, and they also prepare students with job training and independent living skills. Students with disabilities who attend inclusive college programs have a higher chance to receive job opportunities in competitive, integrated employment. In Georgia, 75% of the 2017 graduates are now employed.

With a grant from the US Department of Education, the programs originated in 2010, and GAIPSEC aims to build the capacity to serve 100 new students per year across Georgia.

The campaign is supported by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) with support to its Five Year Plan goal of education. Specifically, GCDD aims to expand the number of successful inclusive post-secondary educational programs in Georgia to 13 by 2022.

About GAIPSEC: Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium is dedicated to ensuring that every Georgia student has access to learning after high school, regardless of intellectual or developmental disability. The Consortium is made up of colleges and universities, community support agencies, families and K-12 educators. Together, its mission ensures that every Georgia student with an intellectual or developmental disability has the opportunity to realize his or her full potential.

Learn More about College for Students with Disabilities.

Include College Fast Facts:

  • 140– Number of Students enrolled in State of Georgia Inclusive College Programs in the 2018 – 19 Academic Year
  • 75% of 2017 College Graduates of Inclusive College Programs are employed
  • 9– Number of Inclusive College Programs in the State of Georgia and 1 – Georgia College preparing to start a new program
  • 88% of Inclusive College Students graduate from their program
  • 250+ – Number of Inclusive College Options throughout the United States.
  • $500,000 from the State supports studies and programming for Inclusive Colleges in Georgia
  • $500,000 from the US Gov for five years (2015-2020) from a Department of Education Grant

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


Download pdf version of Making a Difference Fall 2018    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Fall 2018

 

Public Policy for the People: 11 March

 

public policy for the people LS

Volume 5, Issue 52019 Legislative Session March 11, 2019

Calls to Action: Educate the Senate on the importance of DD Waivers
and IPSE funding! See below for more information!

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our Public Policy Phone Callsat 9:30 AM on  3/25. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read Public Policy for the People: 3/18, 4/1

Who are my state legislators?


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Happy Legislative Day 29 Advocates!
 
With only 11 more legislative days to go, we are fast approaching the end of the 2019 Legislative Session here in Georgia. Indeed, the gavel will fall for the last time on April 2.
 
With that in mind, we need your help to make a splash in the coming week ahead. As you might recall, the House passed their version of the budget for FY 2020. While the House kept the Governor's recommendation for 125 new NOW and COMP waivers, they unfortunately did not add any additional waivers. With approximately 6,000 Georgians on the waiting list for a NOW or COMP waiver, we know 125 is simply not sufficient. Additionally, the House did not add any additional funding for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.
 
What does this mean? It means that we need to shift our advocacy to the Senate Appropriation's Committee, specifically the Human Development and Public Health Subcommittee. We need your help to contact the following Senators:
CALL TO ACTION:
When you contact them, please educate them on the importance of:
  1. Supporting the Governor’s recommendation for 125 NOW & COMP waivers, and adding an additional $17.8 million to DBHDD’s FY20 budget to fund 525 more NOW & COMP waivers.
  2. For Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, increasing legislative funding from the existing $500,000 to $1,000,000 in total within the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Budget.
In other news, the movement for the in-state cultivation of Low THC Oil has found a home in HB 324, otherwise known as Georgia's Hope Act. It is important to note that the bill does not expand who can legally use Low THC Oil, rather it only allows for the production, cultivation, and dispensing of oil to previously approved individuals. HB 324 has passed the House. The related bill, HB 213, allows for the farming of hemp and has also passed the House. Both bills now are in the hands of the state Senate.
 
As for the rights of parents that are visually impaired, a bill that would help protect their rights, has passed the House. Known as HB 79, this bill is the culmination of efforts by the National Federation of the Blind, Georgia Affiliate.
 
Moving right along to voting, the House passed HB 316 last week, which would replace Georgia's current voting machines with a hybrid touchscreen-paper system. Sponsored by Representative Barry Fleming, the the bill was reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Ethics and now must wait to be scheduled for a chamber vote in the Senate. During public testimony, proponents of hand marked ballots testified to their concerns over an electronic system's ability to be validated. Some in favor of HB 316 spoke of the need for an electronic system to accommodate voters with disabilities. On a related note, SB 22,an attempt by Senator Donzella James to increase the privacy of individuals that vote absentee through mail by limiting identifying information on the mailing envelops did not make it past Crossover Day.
 
Next up is Georgia's Hate Crime Legislation, HB 426, which passed on Crossover Day. Sponsored by Representative Chuck Efstration, HB 426 increases penalties for anyone that commits a crime on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability. Some of you might remember that Georgia's previous Hate Crime Law was ruled unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2004 due to being too vague. The bill now sits in the Senate.
 
Finally, we want to thank all of the advocates who braved the unpleasant weather to attend GCDD's 5 Advocacy Days this year. We truly could not have done it without you!
 
Don't forget, the House and Senate have a fairly comprehensive video recording system. It is easy to stream committee meetings, floor sessions, or even watch a recording of a past meeting.

Learn the LingoSubstitute Bill:This is an alternative version of a bill, meaning that changes have occurred within the bill since it was first introduced. While sometimes the changes are minor, they can also be very substantial. For instance, the original bill language might be replaced by entirely new language. The bill's author does not have to approve the changes. Such tactics allow a legislator whose bill did not make Crossover Day to still become law.


A Medicaid Update: A Guest Post

by Laura Colbert, Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future

For the first time in Georgia, there is widespread and bipartisan agreement among Georgia’s Governor and legislative leaders about the pressing need to provide health insurance to more Georgians. To address Georgia’s rising uninsured rate, Governor Brian Kemp has put forth a bill, SB 106, that would allow the state to submit two kinds of health care waivers:
  1. A Medicaid 1115 waiver that could be used to extend coverage to more low-income Georgians, among other reforms; and
  2. A 1332 State Innovation waiver that would make changes to Georgia’s private health insurance marketplace.
(Waivers allow a state to set aside or “waive” certain requirements imposed by the federal government and try new models of providing health coverage and care. Of note, this is different than a NOW, COMP, ICWP, CCSP, or SOURCE Waiver.)
 
While the goal to extend affordable, quality coverage to more Georgians is admirable, the proposed legislation currently falls short by limiting the number of people who would benefit, increasing the likely costs to the state, and leaving to door open to an erosion of critical consumer protections. 
 
SB 106 limits a future 1115 Medicaid waiver to cover only adults making up to 100% of the federal poverty line (FPL) ($12,490 for an individual and $21,330 for a family of three per year). While this would cover more Georgians than are currently eligible for Medicaid, that cut-off leaves out an estimated 200,000 uninsured Georgia adults making just more than poverty-level wages (up to 138% FPL, $17,296 for an individual and $29,435 for a family of three).
 
The Affordable Care Act envisioned that these citizens living close to the poverty line, would be covered by Medicaid and the law provides states with an incentive in which states pay only 10% of the costs of the newly-eligible adults and the federal government picks up the rest. If Georgia’s leaders approve SB 106 in its current form and leave out the people close to the poverty line, our state will miss out on the ACA’s “enhanced match rate” and will likely end up paying more money to cover far fewer people. 
 
The second part of SB 106 allows Georgia to submit a 1332 State Innovation waiver, an option created by the ACA to allow states to test different approaches for providing primarily private health insurance to their residents. At the same time, the law established “guardrails,” which set specific parameters to protect citizens. Unfortunately, these guardrails (protections) have been greatly weakened in recent months leaving consumers at risk.[i]
 
So far, all eight states with approved 1332 waivers have carried out plans that benefit consumers—and Georgia could too. However, the broad language in SB 106 allows for proposals that could also create sizeable and risky changes that put Georgians at risk for harm. For example, Georgia might allow citizens to use their subsidies to purchase junk insurance plans. This would likely draw healthy consumers out of the ACA Marketplace to cheaper, low quality plans and thereby send insurance premiums into an upward spiral for consumers with pre-existing conditions in need of comprehensive coverage.
 
Georgia’s legislators could narrow the scope of an allowable 1332 waiver by specifying that the waiver must be used for a specific beneficial reason, like establishing a reinsurance system to lower insurance premiums, or by laying out a set of principles that the waiver must meet to ensure Georgia consumers are fully protected.
 
Georgia’s leaders have taken an encouraging step forward by putting forth a proposal that aims to increase access to care and address affordability concerns for Georgia families. A few small, meaningful changes to the bill would assure a path to affordable, quality health coverage for all Georgians.
 
Footnotes:
[i] Tim Jost, The Commonwealth Fund, Using the 1332 State Waiver Program to Undermine the Affordable Care Act State by State, https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2018/using-1332-state-waiver-program-undermine-affordable-care-act-state-state

Bills to Watch: Click here!

How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

  • Mar. 13 - The Arc Georgia Day at the Capitol!
  • Mar. 19 - Independent Living Day!

Public Policy for the People: 12 February, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 42018 Legislative Session February 12, 2018

Call to Action:Attend Advocacy Day this Wednesday - share why you love Medicaid!

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

It has been a real whirlwind under the Gold Dome since we spoke last. The long awaited Adoption Bill passed through the Senate, which means everyone can focus on other things.

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, was dropped this past week by Representative Terry Rogers. This bill would create an Employment First Georgia Council for the purpose of "advising the Governor, General Assembly, and state agencies on the adoption and integration of an employment first policy that recognizes that competitive integrated employment, including self-employment, is the first and preferred outcome of all state funded services provided to working age individuals with disabilities." GCDD is proud to support this bill and we urge you to contact your State Representative and ask them to support HB 831. Currently it has been assigned to the House Industry and Labor Committee.

The House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 18 Budget, sending it off the Senate for debate. The House was then able to move on to the Fiscal Year 19 Budget. Last week, the House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee held public comment, where committee members had a chance to hear from advocates on the waiting list for NOW and COMP Waivers. The testimony given was powerful and a great reminder of the importance of sharing your story.

SB 118, sponsored by Senator Renee Unterman, which raises the age limit to age 12 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies, passed the Senate last Wednesday. It now moves on to the House of Representatives for debate.

Since our last newsletter, GCDD held one advocacy day on Employment. Our next advocacy day is this Wednesday where we will be speaking about Medicaid. We hope you will register and share with your legislator why you love Medicaid. GCDD was also excited about the Independent Living Day at the Capitol last week, as well as CO-AGE's Senior Week. Both had excellent turnouts and we were thrilled - it is always important to remind legislators about the voice of Georgians with disabilities.

The GA General Assembly has released their tentative calendarfor the the rest of session.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the Lingo
Adjourn:
It ends the business of the day for the House and Senate. Committee meetings happen, but neither the entire House nor the entire Senate meet all together after adjournment.

Caucus: A group of legislators who share common ideas within the Georgia General Assembly.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We wanted to give you a few story telling tips.

  • Keep it short. Remember, you will only have about 2 to 3 minutes to tell your story when working the ropes. Some people call this an “elevator speech.”
  • Practice with a friend.
  • Learn the issue and why it matters to you or people you care about.
  • If the policy has helped, share the success story. If the policy has harmed you or someone you know, explain what happened and how your legislator can make it better.

Sharing your story can be scary at first, but it gets easier with practice! If you would like more help telling your story, please join us at the next GCDD Advocacy Day on Wednesday, February 14 to learn how it goes at the Capitol.

Also, if you have not already, please join the UNLOCK! Coalition, a partnership of powerful policy advocates and agencies, by clicking the link below to complete your membership. We hope to see you at the Gold Dome on February 14!


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 288: (Kirby) Creates penalties for using fake service animals, penalties for harming a service animal, and would allow the Department of Human Services to "authorize private service organizations... to create and issue information cards containing the department's seal" that explain the rights and penalties associated with service animals.

HB 482: (Trammel) Educational Scholarship Act - Allows parents to use the money the state would have spent on their child's public school education to pay for private school education.

HB 635: (Cooper) The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act - creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly.

HB 645: (Peake) To legalize possession of low THC oil and cultivation of cannabis for the production of low THC oil in the state of Georgia under certain conditions/medical conditions.

HB 668:(Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old.

HB 669:(Trammel) Medicaid Expansion Bill.

HB 740: (Nix) Requires local school systems to conduct certain screenings before a student, in pre-K through third grade, can be expelled or suspended for more than five days. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the school will hold an IEP or Section 504 meting to review the supports currently being provided as part of their IEP or Section 504 Plan.

HB 768: (Hilton) Changes the rules around intellectual disability and capital crimes.

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year.

HB 776: (Douglas) The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-term Care Facilities Act allows for the placement and use of electronic monitoring devices by the resident of a long term care facility (such as a any skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, assisted living community, or personal care home) within their personal room.

HB 801: (Hilton) Allows the GA Special Needs Scholarship to cover services, therapies, and other materials, as opposed to only tuition.

HB 803: (Willard) Prohibits the trafficking of an adult with a disability.

HB 844: (Houston) Revises provisions of the GA Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons, specifically around membership of commission, as well as creates a multi-agency task force to provide recommendations for improvements to the GA General Assembly and the Governor.

HB 891: (Gilliard) States that the Department of Human Services, the courts, or a child placing agency cannot deny someone child placement, child custody, visitation, guardianship, or adoption solely or primarily because the individual is blind.

SB 322: (James) Requires non-electric personal assistive mobility devices to have front and rear reflectors when used on highways or sidewalks, as well as all electric and nonelectric personal assistive devices sold after December 31, 2018 to have reflectors.

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force.

SB 406: (Strickland) The Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program establishes minimum standards for conducting criminal background checks of owners, applicants for employment, and direct access employees at facilities such as a personal care home, assistive living community, private home care provider, home health agency, provider of hospice care, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, or adult day care facility.

SB 408: (Jackson) Allows for individuals with autism to request a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor, special education instructor, clinical social worker, or any other mental or behavioral health professional be present at an interview by a local law enforcement officer.

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services.

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.


Other Days of Note:

Feb 15: Hearts for Children Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 15: Cover GA Day with Georgians for a Healthy Future
Feb 20: Anti-Sex Trafficking Day at the Capitol with Street Grace
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project
Mar 1: Housing Day at the Capitol with Housing Georgia

Public Policy for the People: 12 March 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 62018 Legislative Session March 12, 2018

Call to Action:Please call your State Senator and tell them why HB 831 is good for Georgians with developmental disabilities. Tell them we want a clean bill with no changes or amendments.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Only 7 legislative days to go. With Sine Die (end date) falling on March 29, we really are in the homestretch.

As happens every year, Crossover Day serves as a filter, keeping out many bills and only letting a few through. Of course, some times bills that do not make Crossover Day end up as amendments to other bills that did, but by and large, if a bill does not make Crossover Day, then it is dead.

While not a complete listing of all bills that made Crossover Day, we do want to highlight a few below:

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, passed the House of Representatives in the afternoon of Crossover Day. It was then assigned to the Economic Development and Tourism Committee in the Senate. A hearing was held Tuesday, March 6th and was voted out of committee at that time. We hope the bill will come up for a floor vote later this week. If you have not done so already, please call your State Senator and tell them that HB 831 is good for Georgians with developmental disabilities and will enable the system to better understand how to support employment for all.

SB 406, Georgia's Long-term Care Background Check Program, an initiative of the Georgia Council on Aging, made it through Crossover Day and was then assigned to the House Human Relations & Aging Committee. A hearing was held on March 8th and was voted out of committee at that time. It now waits in the Rules Committee where it must be voted out before it can go up for a vote in the House of Representatives. If you have not already called your State Representative and told them why background checks are important for your ability to rely on long-term care workers, please do so. GCDD is excited about this bill because it is a step in the right direction of GCDD's focus on creating and Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry in Georgia.

Shifting now to the budget, the House and Senate have agreed upon an Amended Fiscal Year 18 Budget. Governor Nathan Deal signed the budget into law this past Friday. A few highlights from the AFY18 budget:

  • $220,000 for the Albany Advocacy Resource Center (DBHDD)
  • Approximately $3.52 million increase in funds, and the re-utilization of $300,072 in existing funds for services and supports for youth with autism (DBHDD, DCH, DPH)
  • $2.7 million for additional Behavioral Health Crisis facility beds (DBHDD)
  • $1 million for the electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services (DCH)
  • $750,000 increase to fund the analysis of the Medicaid delivery system for the purposes of identifying efficiencies and service delivery improvement opportunities (DCH)
  • $96,196 increase for the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund (DPH)

The House of Representatives passed their version of the Fiscal Year 19 Budget. It is now on to the Senate. A few budget highlights:

  • $3.1 million to fund 125 NOW/COMP Waivers (DBHDD).
  • $6 million annualized for 250 NOW/COMP waivers added in the FY 18 Budget (DBHDD).
  • $3 million to fund one new Behavioral Health Crisis Center (DBHDD).
  • $5.7 million increase in mental health services in the community to comply with the DOJ Settlement Agreement (DBHDD).
  • $7.44 million in new funding, as well as the utilization of $316,819 in existing funding, for services for youth with autism (DBHDD, DPH, DCH).
  • $894,519 to provide funds for an electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services (DCH).
    Utilize $962,022 in existing funds to support increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities (DCH).
  • $226,725 to provide funds to increase the reimbursement rates for Adult Day Health Centers (DCH).
  • $735,961 increase in Preschool Disabilities Services, “funds for enrollment growth and training and experience” (DOE).
  • $200,000 in funding for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for citizens with disabilities in southwest Georgia (GVRA).
  • $14,000 to provide funding for an agricultural careers summer camp for youth with disabilities (GCDD).
  • $1.4 million increase in funds to make the Suicide Prevention Hotline & mobile app 24/7 (DBHDD).
  • $551,858 increase in funds for the OT and PT rates in the Babies Can't Wait Program (DPH).

Upcoming Meetings:

HR 1257, sponsored by Representative Petrea, is currently scheduled for a hearing in the House Special Rules Committee this Tuesday, March 13 at 9:00 AM in Room 506 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, located at 18 Capitol Square SW, Atlanta, GA 30334. This bill would create the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings. Be sure to double check the time or room has not changed here. If you are planning to come down, please email Hanna at to receive any updates.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the Lingo
Conference Committee:
When the House and the Senate pass different versions of the same bill, they come together to work out their differences.

Code: All of Georgia's government statutes gathered in one place.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We hope you have continued to enjoy the tips shared in UNLOCK! articles. You may have noticed we are building on our advocacy strategies so we can better understand the legislative process in Georgia. So far we have shared OpenStates.org so you can look up your state legislators, we gave tips on how to contact and share your story with your legislator, and how to meet with your legislator. Today we want to try and simplify how a bill becomes a law. For a more detailed approach, click here.

Did you know you can work with your legislator to introduce a bill? Yep! That is exactly how HB343, to replace the “R” word, started. An advocate, like you and me, went to their House Representative with information on what other states had done to get that offensive word out of state policy. The advocate's Representative helped write the bill and get support from other representatives. Then it was:

  1. Introduced in the House
  2. Approved in a House Committee
  3. Approved in the House Rules Committee
  4. Passed a floor vote in the House

Then followed the same path in the Senate:

  1. It was read on the Senate floor
  2. Approved in a Senate Committee
  3. Approved in the Senate Rules Committee
  4. Passed a floor vote in the Senate

Ultimately, the bill became a law on May 8th, 2017 when it was signed by the Governor. All this because an advocate – just like you and me – wanted to make a real change in Georgia.

The UNLOCK! Coalition is here to help with your policy advocacy. Join us in supporting policy that will unlock communities across Georgia for people with disabilities.

Join the UNLOCK Coalition Here


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 635: (Cooper) The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act - creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 668: (Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old. (Senate Rules Committee)

HB 740: (Nix) Requires local school systems to conduct certain screenings before a student, in pre-K through third grade, can be expelled or suspended for more than five days. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the school will hold an IEP or Section 504 meting to review the supports currently being provided as part of their IEP or Section 504 Plan. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 803: (Willard) Prohibits the trafficking of an adult with a disability. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 844: (Houston) Revises provisions of the GA Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons, specifically around membership of commission, as well as creates a multi-agency task force to provide recommendations for improvements to the GA General Assembly and the Governor. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

SB 118: (Unterman) Raises the age limit to age 12 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies. (House Insurance Committee)

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force. (House Health & Human Services Committee)

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons (Senate Rules)

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations. (Senate Rules)

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services. (Senate Rules)

Public Policy for the People: 13 February 2017

public policy for the people header

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, bit.ly/GAHouseMeetings and bit.ly/GASenateMeetings.

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 https://openstates.org/

 
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: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • 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 bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    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

Public Policy for the People: 13 March 2017

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 6   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   13 March 2017

Call your Senator about HB343 & your Representative about SB201.


Announcement:
The Atlanta Housing Authority Housing Choice Voucher Program Waiting List Opening!

Waiting List Pre-Application OPENS from Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. EST
until Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. EST       
Learn more here http://ahawaitlist.org/

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip ModesittHow to stay involved after session:

The Georgia General Assembly only meets January through March; however, you are still able to stay involved in the political process all year long. People can stay involved in the political process by voicing their opinions on issues that are important to them. Even when the Georgia General Assembly is not in session, people can stay involved by writing the members letters or even meeting with your legislator during the year. You can find out who your legislator is by going to www.openstates.org. People can also stay involved by staying informed on current events and any new Federal bills that are being passed so that they can have up to date information. People can also attend conferences that are based around issues that are important to them. For example, the IDEA partnership is a conference that you can attend that focuses on improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Lastly, you can prepare to meet with the members again next year. People who have disabilities can meet with people who have other disabilities to prepare for the Georgia General Assembly next year.

– Phillip James Modesitt

Want to attend a conference but need a bit of help. Check out GCDD's Learning Opportunities Support Fundwhich provides scholarship assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to attend advocacy, learning events, and conferences.

Be in the Know: Only 7 legislative days to go

Today is Day 32 in the Georgia General Assembly. After today there are only 7 legislative days left until the gavel falls on Sinie Die. We are in the last mile of the marathon and everyone is working at a full out sprint.

This morning the Senate Appropriations Committee met to provide their recommendations for the Big Budget for Fiscal year 2018. To start with the good news, the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education increase in funding was maintained as recommended by the House. At the request of GCDD, the Senate made a slight change to allow GCDD to maintain $75,000 of the funding GCDD receives "to maintain the council's active participation in the IPSE partnership." Previously, the House had only left $25,000 to accomplish this goal. This brings the total allocation to GVRA for IPSE to $450,000, as opposed to the House's recommendation of $500,000. With the Federal match, GVRA will have up to $2.25 million to support IPSE in Georgia. Additionally, the specific language around the number of scholarships to be provided was removed.

The bad news is that there were no new DD waivers added besides that which is required by the Department of Justice Extension Agreement. While we are disappointed, we are not discouraged and will continue fighting for a day in Georgia where all Georgians with disabilities receive the services they need to live full and integrated lives in the community. To see the relevant budget pages for IPSE and DD waivers, click here. (This link is no longer active.) 

As for the Family Care Act, SB 201, things are alive and well. The bill is currently working its way through the House of Representatives. We hope to see SB 201 on the floor for a vote in the coming weeks. This means we need you to call your Representative, and ask a friend to do the same, and ask them to vote YES on SB201, The Family Care Act. If you do see Senator Butch Miller around, be sure to thank him for all his hard work and support in pushing SB 201 through the legislative process.

We thank Representative Scott Hilton for his hard work on HB343 which resulted in the House unanimously voting to replace the offensive MR word with intellectual disability in Georgia State Code.  HB 343 is currently scheduled for a Hearing Only this Tuesday at 4:00 pm in the Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee A. Remember, to make it to the floor for a vote, a bill must first be voted favorably out of committee. Be sure to call your Senator and ask them to vote YES on HB 343, replacing the offensive MR word with intellectual disability.

Lastly, SB 185 Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disability, did not make Crossover Day. While the bill is dead until next year, we are incredibly optimistic about SB 185's prospects next year. We thank Senator Elena Parent for all her hard work on this legislation. Despite not making Crossover Day, SB 185 did have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, Sub Committee B. While no vote was taken, this was an excellent opportunity for advocates to provide testimony on the issue and for the Senators present to ask questions and get more information on the issue. We have made incredible progress on this issue this year intend to spend the off-season preparing for the 2018 session!

GCDD held two Advocacy Day's these past two weeks. It is thanks to advocates such as yourself that HB 343 and SB 201 are doing so well. Not only did our efforts give these two bills the push they needed, we also educated lawmakers on the need for transportation improvements, PeachWork, and Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities. All in all, they were very successful. If you attended an advocacy day and have some feedback on what went well and what didn't go so well, please take a moment to take our short anonymous survey at http://bit.ly/GCDDSurvey

On the Federal Level, Congress is currently debating the American Health Care Act. If this were to pass, it would have serious ramifications for Georgians with disabilities. We are hosting a webinar, this Wednesday, March 15 from 1:30 to 2:30pm, to help advocates learn more about the changes currently being discussed. You do not need to pre-register, just go to http://bit.ly/GCDDWebinar on Wednesday. To hear the audio, call in at 1-888-355-1249, Code# 232357

The newly formed GA Health Care Reform Task Force met for the first time this past Friday. They met to discuss what the changes on the federal level could mean for Georgia, as well as what Georgia can do now to better serve its many citizens. GCDD has joined a coalition spearheaded by Georgians for a Healthy Future to mobilize around this issue and ensure that all Georgians benefit from any proposed changes. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

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 bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    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. - Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

Shall: If you are anything like me, you had no idea until you read this that 'shall' has three definitions: may, will, and must. I had not realized this until I was in a meeting the other day when some lawyers were focusing in on the word 'shall' in a piece of proposed legislation. Now to the uninformed, such as myself, 'shall' has a pretty clear meaning. But as it turns out, the US Supreme Court has ruled that 'shall' means 'may.' This means that when the word 'shall' appears in a bill, it is not a requirement. Jerry shall go to Capitol, which just means Jerry has the option of going to the Capitol, but is not required to do so. Hopefully that makes sense and we can all join in watching out for the sneaky 'shall.'

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.

  • SB 149: Requires School Resource Officers to complete 40 hours of training approved by the GA Peace Officer Standards and Training, to include interactions with students with mental health diagnoses. Passed the Senate, will be heard in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security committee later today.
  • HB 273: would require every local school board to schedule a daily, 30-minute recess for student's kindergarten through 5th grade. Passed House. Assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee and is scheduled to be heard today.
  • SB 29: Requires drinking water in childcare learning centers and schools to be tested for lead, and if found, create a remediation plan. Passed Senate, assigned to the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee
  • HB 486: Proxy Caregivers. Passed House. In Senate, has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bill

Public Policy for the People: 16 January, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 22018 Legislative Session January 16, 2018

Call to Action: Call your State Rep. Ask them to support the Governor's rec. for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers,and then ask for an additional 475 waivers for a total of 600 new NOW/COMP waiver slots.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 1/29, 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days

Jan 23: DD Waivers
Jan 31: Employment
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

While the first day of the Georgia General Assembly got off to a rough start on account of anticipated freezing rain and downtown Atlanta traffic jams, things quickly got back on track with Governor Deal's State of the State Address last Thursday. Soon after he finished speaking, Governor Deal released his budget recommendations for Amended Fiscal Year 2018 & Fiscal Year 2019.

As you can see below, Georgians with disabilities did fairly well. There is a large effort underway in Georgia to provide services to youth with autism. However, with almost 9,000 Georgians on the waiting list for NOW & COMP Waivers, we know that there is still much work to be done! Due in large part to our advocacy work last session, DBHDD has created a multi-year plan to address the waiting list for NOW & COMP Waivers. We are still waiting on the final details of the plan to inform our advocacy work and will share more in the next issue.

Click here for a refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities.

Budget Highlights: Amended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities:

  • $1,250,000 in additional funds for crisis services for children under 21 with autism
  • $1,153,042 in additional funds to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $128,292 in existing funds for telehealth services and three positions for behavioral health services for children under age 21 with autism

Department of Community Health:

  • $1,043,766 in additional funds for electronic visit verification system for home and community based services
  • $1,118,589 in additional funds to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $12,675 in existing funds for one program coordinator position for children under 21 with autism

Department of Public Health:

  • Utilize $159,105 in existing funds for telehealth infrastructure and one program support coordinator position to provide behavioral health services to children under 21 with autism
Budget Highlights: Fiscal Year 2019 Budget

Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities:

  • $3,138,073 in additional funds for 125 NOW/COMP waiver slots
  • $6,054,113 in additional funds to annualize the 250 NOW/COMP waiver slots added last year per the DOJ settlement extension
  • $5,922,917 in additional funds for crisis services for children under age 21 with autism
  • Utilize $266,119 in existing funds for telehealth services and three positions for behavioral health services for children under age 21 with autism

Department of Community Health:

  • $894,519 in additional funds for an electronic visit verification system for home and community based services
  • $847,962 in additional funds to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $962,022 in existing funding to support increased background checks for owners and employees of long term care facilities
  • $50,700 in existing funds for one program coordinator position for children under 21 with autism

Department of Public Health:

  • $100,000 in additional funds to provide screening and therapy for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $50,700 in existing funds for one program support coordinator position for children under 21 with autism

Department of Education:

  • $3,992,201 reduction in funding for GNETS due to declining enrollment/training/experience
  • $1,006,233 in additional funds for Preschool Disabilities Services to reflect enrollment growth/training/experience
  • $501,254 in additional funds for State Schools for training and experience

What are my next advocacy steps?


Learn the Lingo


Fiscal Year:
Different from a calendar year, the fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. It is how the state organizes its finances.

Appropriations Committee: The group of legislators in charge of drafting the budget. The House and the Senate each have their own Appropriations Committee.

How does a bill become a law?


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Greetings fellow advocates and welcome to our first UNLOCK! article in Policy for the People! As we gear up for the 2018 legislative session, we want to stress the important first step in the advocacy process, knowing your state legislators. We each have 2 state legislators based on where we live, one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. They work for their constituents, meaning the people who live in the area where the legislator was elected. In order to help their communities, the legislators want and need to hear from those who live in those communities. That's you! Take a minute to click on the link provided below, insert your current home address in the space provided, and hit the search button to the right. Now that you know who your state legislators are, stay tuned for upcoming Unlock articles in Policy for the People for information and tips on how you can continue to advocate for what is important to you!


Who are my state legislators?

Other Days of Note:

Jan 24: Autism Advocacy Day with Spectrum
Jan 25: Insights Policy Conference with Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Jan 31: Champions for Children with Independent Living Georgia
Feb 7 & 8: Senior Week with CO-AGE
Feb 8: Independent Living Day with the Statewide Independent Living Council
Feb 15: ICM Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project

Public Policy for the People: 17 January 2017

public policy for the people header

Volume 3, Issue 2   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   17 January 2017

The Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Day has been rescheduled.
It is no longer January 18, but now February 1! See you there!

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • Feb 1 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 1 & Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Advocacy Day
  • 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)

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

  • Jan 26 - Be there for Seniors Day (GA Council on Aging) – Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry - DATE CHANGED
  • 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 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging) – Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry
  • Feb 16 – Senior Week (GA Council on Aging) – Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

  • 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 15 – Interfaith Children’s Movement Day at the Capitol
  • Feb 21 – Catholic Day at the Capitol 
  • Feb 22 – Easterseals 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.

Other Events:

January 20 - DD Advisory Council Meeting (Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities), 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, 2 Peachtree Street NW, 24th Floor, Room 260, Atlanta, GA 30303

January 28 - Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Region 3 Advisory Council will be hosting a Community Education Forum at 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Mountain Park Activity Center located at 1063 Rockbridge Road SW in Stone Mountain, Georgia 30087.The purpose of the community forum is to educate the public about programs and services within their local communities and to gather input from the community stakeholders regarding issues of access to, and quality of services from contracted providers and its partners. Click here to learn more and register.

Celebration of Children Conference, sponsored by the Interfaith Children's Movement, will focus on improving the wellbeing of Georgia's children. This year's conference will be held on January 26, 2017 at Marietta First United Methodist Church from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Click here to learn more and register.

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 bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    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 30, Feb 13, Feb 27, Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingotwo headed cow

  • A two headed cow? Not just something you will find in a sci-fi movie, but also on the fourth floor of the Capitol! Next time you come down to meet with your legislator, be sure to look near room 431.
  • Speaker of the House: The top position in the House of Representatives. Elected by fellow members, the Speaker has a lot of duties, some of which are calling bills up for discussion or vote, upholding the rules of the House, and calling on other members who want to speak or ask a question. The current Speaker is David Ralston of Blue Ridge, GA.
  • President of the Senate: The top position in the Senate, the President of the Senate is held by the Lieutenant Governor. Currently this is Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. The Lieutenant Governor has many roles, but in terms of the Senate they preside over debate and oversee the movement of legislation. As he is not an elected member of the Senate, the President of the Senate cannot vote or sponsor legislation.

Be in the Know:

Brush up on GCDD’s 2017 Legislative Priorities

Despite the chilly weather that gripped much of the state, the legislative session kicked off January 9 as planned.

GCDD held its first Public Policy Phone Call, participated in UNLOCK! Day at the Capitol, attended House Appropriations Committee Meetings for both Health and Human Resources, and learned about the issues facing Georgia's healthcare system at Healthcare Unscrambled hosted by Georgians for a Healthy Future.

We also learned that Crossover Day has changed this year from the 30th legislative day to the 28th legislative day. What this means? Day 28 will now be the deadline for legislation to move from the House to the Senate, or vice versa. If it does not make this deadline, the bill is dead until next year.

The Family Care Act: We are very excited to announce that Senator Butch Miller will be sponsoring the Family Care Act this year! Remember, the Family Care Act would allow family members to use up to five days of their earned sick leave to care for a sick family member. Be sure to come out February 28 to show your support for the Family Care Act as they will be one of the participating organizations for GCDD Advocacy Days.

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bill

HB 16: Would revise the definition of bullying and harassment in elementary and secondary education. Of note, this would expand the definition to include bullying on the basis of disability. To read the full bill, click here.

HB 28: Requires the testing of drinking water for lead contamination in all public and private schools here in Georgia. If lead is found, the law requires a remediation plan to be implemented and alternate drinking sources to be provided to students and staff. To read the full bill, click here.

HB 65: 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. To read the full bill, click here.

HR 36: This constitutional amendment would allow the production of cannabis in Georgia, as well as the sale of cannabis for those who meet the medical requirement. To read the full proposed amendment, click here.

SB 16: This would change the definition of "low THC oil" from 5% to 3% by weight, as well as add autism spectrum disorder to the medical conditionals eligible to use low TCH oil. To read the full bill, click here.

SB 8: "Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act" which would help protect consumers from unexpected out of network healthcare costs, among other things. To read the full bill, click here.

SB 12: This would allow dental hygienists to provide teeth cleanings in safety-net settings, such as a nursing home, senior center, or volunteer community health setting without a dentist being on site. The intent behind this bill is to make dental cleanings more accessible and affordable. To read the full bill, click here.

Governor's State of the State

Think the President's State of the Union, only Georgia focused. Governor Nathan Deal spoke before the General Assembly on Wednesday, January 11 for about an hour. To read the Governor's speech in full, click here.

Some highlights:

  • Georgia revenue (the pot of money that funds the government) is expected to grow 3.6% for FY18.
  • Law enforcement will now be trained "on how to safely handle situations involving those with mental impairment"
  • Teachers got a 3% increase for merit, recruitment, and retention, as well as a 2% salary increase.
  • Deal wishes "to enhance Medicaid and the State Health Benefit Plan to include the treatment of those diagnosed with autism up to age 21."
  • Recommends the expansion of behavioral and mental health coverage to children between birth and age 4 for Medicaid and PeachCare Members -allocating $2.5 million to make this happen.
  • Deal "cautions against taking giant leaps on healthcare policy until we know what Congress and the incoming administration will do."
    A 2% salary raise for state employees.
  • There was a major focus on children in failing schools. Despite Georgia residents voting against Governor Deal's Opportunity School District, the Governor is working with the Georgia General Assembly to come up with a new plan to address poor school performance.  
Budget 101: Governor's Recommendations

Every year the Governor puts out his budget recommendations for the upcoming year, in this case Fiscal Year 18 (FY 18 for short) which is from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. Legislators use the Governor's Recommendations as a starting point to suggest changes of their own. Eventually the House and Senate will come to agreement and pass the FY 18 Budget.

It is very long document and so we have pulled out some highlights for you. If you are feeling particularly brave today and want to explore Budget on your own, you can find it here.

Quick Tip: (p 101) stands for page 101 of the Budget in case you want to look for yourself

Let's focus first on GCDD's priority issues.

  • Inclusive Post-Secondary Education - No cuts but also no increase. If we want any additional funds for IPSE schools, we need to work for it through advocacy.
  • DD Waivers - No new funds for people in the community. No plan to deal with the 8,698 Georgians waiting desperately for a DD waiver. If we want to see any significant progress on the waiting list, we need to do some serious advocacy this session. GCDD is ready, are you?
    • Annualized 100 NOW waivers. $1,096,912 (p 101)
    • Annualized 250 NOW and Comp waivers per DOJ settlement to cover individuals coming out of institutions. $12,108,226 (p 100)
    • Additional 250 NOW and Comp waivers per DOJ settlement to cover individuals coming out of institutions. $6,054,113 (p 101)
  • $11,762,894 -Annualize the cost of a provider rate increase for COMP waiver programs (p 100)

Other areas of interest?

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

  • $6,000,000 for one new Behavioral Health Crisis Center (p 101)

Department of Community Health

  • $1,377,969 to reduce the waiting list for Community Care Services Program Waiver (CCSP) (p 119)
  • $250,000 to increase funds for an adjustment to congregate and home delivered meal rates for Medicaid waivers for the elderly (p 119)
  • $20,766,592 in Tenet settlement agreement funds to cover Medicaid behavioral health services for children under 21 who are diagnosed with autism. (p 120) - We will let you know as we learn more what this will actually cover and look like.
  • $2,533,408 in Tenet settlement agreement funds for behavioral health services to children ages 0-4 on Medicaid (p 120)
  • State Health Benefit Plan
    • Increase funds to raise the five-year benefit limit for children's hearing aids from $3,000 to $6,000 (p 120)
    • Increase funds to reflect enrollment growth to match Medicaid age requirements for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. (p 121)

Department of Human Services

  • $766,484 for 11 new adult protective services supervisors in the division of Elder Abuse Investigations and Prevention (p 194)

Department of Education (DOE)

  • A 2% pay raise for all public school teachers in the state of Georgia.
  • Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support(GNETS)
    • GNETS have seen a decrease in student enrollment. Instead of reallocating this money saved to the general pot, GNETs are using the money for staff training to improve instructional practices and for behavioral and therapeutic service contracts. (p 164)
  • Preschool Disabilities Services (services for 3 and 4 year olds)
    • $794,243 -increase funds for enrollment growth and training. (p 166)
  • $4,441,199 Increase in funds for the Special Needs Scholarship (helps support parent school choice) (p 167)

Governor's Budget Recommendations for Amended FY 17:
Additional 250 NOW and Comp waivers per DOJ settlement to cover individuals coming out of institutions. $6,054,113

Around Town with UNLOCK

Last week the UNLOCK! Coalition held UNLOCK! Day at the Capitol.

Representative Scott HiltonRepresentative Scott Hilton was one of many legislators who stopped by to learn about UNLOCK!'s mission and legislative priorities.UNLOCK Day at the CapitolUNLOCK! Coalition Organizer Stacey Ramirez of The Arc, joined by Dawn Johnson and Paige Kubik of the Frazier Center at UNLOCK! Day at the Capitol.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Policy for the People: 18 February, 2019

 

public policy for the people LS

Volume 5, Issue 42019 Legislative Session February 18, 2019

Call to Action:Sign Up for Advocacy Days!

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our Public Policy Phone Callsat 9:30 AM on  2/25, 3/11, 3/25. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read Public Policy for the People: 2/18, 3/4, 3/18, 4/1

Who are my state legislators?

Looking Ahead

2019 GCDD Advocacy Days
UPDATED DATES
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Day
Feb 27: Direct Support Professionals Day
Mar 5: Supported Decision Making Day

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Exciting news advocates, we have a legislative calendar. We now know that the state legislative session will officially come to a close on April 2, 2019. From looking at the calendar, we can already tell this is going to be a fast legislative session. Bills are going to be moving at lightning speed to reach the finish line and become law. With that in mind, we are going to need your help to impact the legislative session. If you are not already registered for one of our three remaining Advocacy Days, be sure to click the registration link above. Also, be sure to the check out our partners' advocacy events below.

As for what is happening under the Gold Dome, there has been a significant focus on access to healthcare in Georgia. Indeed, with 63 counties lacking a pediatrician, 75 lacking an OBGYN, and 8 counties lacking any doctor, it is not a surprise that the legislature appears ready to tackle this issue.

The House of Representative's Access to Quality Healthcare Special Committee met to discuss the plight of rural Georgia. Specifically, they heard from Majority Caucus Chairman Matt Hatchett regarding his bill, HB 198, which among other things seeks to repeal the Certificate of Need for "the development and provision of all healthcare facilities and services, with the exception of long term care and home health facilities and services," in an effort to lower healthcare costs and insurance rates. To learn more about Certificate of Need, check out this AJC article.

Governor Kemp's Floor Leader, Senator Blake Tillery, introduced the Patients First Act, otherwise known as SB 106. "The Patients First Act is a step toward lowering insurance premiums, enhancing access to quality care, and improving health outcomes in every part of our state," said Governor Kemp. "By working with Lt. Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, and the legislature, we will craft a Georgia-centric healthcare system that ensures a bright and healthy future for all Georgians - no matter their zip code."

As Governor Kemp and the legislature explore potential methods for expanding Medicaid in a Georgia way, we at GCDD will be educating all members of the Georgia General Assembly about the importance of taking into consideration the needs of Georgians with disabilities before any decisions are made. We ask that you help us in this goal.

Finally, Senator Greg Kirk introduced SR 193 and SR 194 to create either a Senate or Joint Study Committee on Transferring Oversight of Developmental Disabilities to the Department of Community Health. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Don't forget, the House and Senate have a fairly comprehensive video recording system. It is easy to stream committee meetings, floor sessions, or even watch a recording of a past meeting.


Learn the Lingo

Crossover Day:The 28th Day of the legislative session, Crossover Day marks the last day a bill can pass from its original chamber into the other chamber. For example, a house bill must be voted out of the House and be sent to the Senate before the end of Crossover Day, or the bill is dead until the next legislative session. This year Crossover Day is on March 7, 2019.

Sine Die: The very last day of the legislative session here in Georgia. If a bill has not passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate by the stroke of midnight, the bill is dead until the next legislative session. This year Sine Die is on April 2, 2019.


Bills to Watch:

  • HB 1: Rename the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship the Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship (Rep. Jesse Petrea).
  • HB 18: Automatic registration of voters who obtain, renew, or change their name or address on a drivers license card in Georgia (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 19: Comprehensive state civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Expands to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and age. Removes the term handicap and leaves the pre-existing term of disability (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 37:Expand Medicaid Now Act (Rep. Robert Trammell).
  • HB 40: To require local school systems to conduct screenings for dyslexia (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 57: Eligible electors mailed an absentee ballot for each primary, election, or runoff in which they are eligible to vote (Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick).
  • HB 69: Altering the prior school year requirement for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program (Rep. Scot Turner).
  • HB 79: Establishment of procedural safeguards that require adherence to due process and equal protection rights of blind parents in the context of child welfare, foster care, adoption, and family law (Rep. Carl Gilliard).
  • HB 135: Allows for residents in Long-term Care Facilities to implement electronic monitoring of their room (Rep. Demetrius Douglas).
  • HB 176: Any agency that utilizes applications to provide services or assistance to persons in this state shall provide voter registration applications (Rep. Renitta Shannon).
  • HB 248: Widens who can assist a voter with a disability or a voter that is illiterate in the voting process to allow any person of the elector's choosing other than such elector's employer, any agent of such employer, or an agent or officer of such elector's union (Rep. Kimberly Alexander).
  • HB 283:The Georgia Voting Rights Act which among many things would create a Georgia Voting Rights Commission and provide for an independent Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Office (Rep. Scott Holcom
  • HR 52: Encourage all schools, local educational agencies, and the state educational agency to recognize that dyslexia has a profound educational impact that must be addressed (Rep. John Corbett).
  • SB 10: to provide that possession of certain quantities of marijuana constitute a misdemeanor (Sen. Harold Jones)
  • SB 22: Increased Privacy and security for mail-in absentee ballots (Sen. Donzella James)
  • SB 24: Requires the registration of certain electric personal assistive mobility devices (Sen. Donzella James)
  • SB 34:Change provisions relating to persons who are ineligible for weapons carry licenses as it relates to Georgians with disabilities (Sen. Emanuel Jones).
  • SB 48: To require that all kindergarten through second grade students are screened for dyslexia and increase dyslexia focused professional development for teachers (Sen. P.K. Martin IV).
  • SB 74:Among other things, eliminates the certificate of need requirements for all health care facilities except certain long-term care facilities and services (Sen. Matt Brass).

How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

  • Feb. 19 - State of the Judiciary
  • Mar. 4 - National Federation of the Blind, Georgia Affiliate Day!
  • Mar. 13 - The Arc Georgia Day at the Capitol!
  • Mar. 19 - Independent Living Day!

Public Policy for the People: 18 March

 

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Volume 5, Issue 62019 Legislative Session March 18, 2019

Calls to Action: Educate the Senate on the importance of DD Waivers
and IPSE funding! See below for more information!

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our Public Policy Phone Callsat 9:30 AM on  3/25. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read Public Policy for the People: 4/1

Who are my state legislators?


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

With only 7 legislative days left, we are entering the final sprint! As we race to the finish line of Sine Die on April 2, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First, the Senate is still working on their version of the FY2020 Budget. Once they finalize their version of the budget, the House and Senate will enter something called a Conference Committee to iron out their differences. This means there is still time to influence the budget process and we need your help to do so.If you have not already contacted the Senate Appropriation's Committee, specifically the Human Development and Public Health Subcommittee, then we need you to do so today! We need your helpto educate the following Senators:
CALL TO ACTION:
When you contact them, please educate them on the importance of:
  1. Supporting the Governor’s recommendation for 125 NOW & COMP waivers, and adding an additional $17.8 million to DBHDD’s FY20 budget to fund 525 more NOW & COMP waivers.
  2. For Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, increasing legislative funding from the existing $500,000 to $1,000,000 in total within the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Budget.
SB 106, Georgia's partial Medicaid expansion bill, continues to be a hot topic down at the Gold Dome. Assigned to the House Access to Quality Healthcare Special Committee, the bill would, among other things, empower Governor Kemp to apply for a 1115 Medicaid Waiver to extend Medicaid coverage to Georgians living at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a more complete analysis of what this could mean for Georgia, be sure to check out last week's Public Policy for the People featuring a guest article by Laura Colbert, Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future.
 
As for voting, the House agreed to the Senate's changes to HB 316 last Thursday. The bill now waits for the Governor's signature before it becomes law. The final vote in the House was 101 Yea and 69 Nay. During discussion on the floor of the House, the importance of ensuring the system is accessible to voters with disabilities was raised multiple times to the detriment of proponents of hand marked ballots. Beyond simply deciding on an electronic voting machine system that prints a receipt, the bill also increases the number of years a voter may be inactive before they are removed from the voter rolls from three to five years, and places restrictions on when a polling place may be changed in advance of an election
 
Finally, with Crossover Day behind us, we thought it might be helpful to separate the bills we are tracking into two categories. First, you can find here a list of bills GCDD is tracking that made Crossover Day, meaning they still have a chance of passing this legislative session. The other list, which you can find here, includes all the bills GCDD is tracking, many of which did not pass before Crossover Day. Remember, if a bill did not pass by Crossover Day, it cannot be passed into law this year. However, a dead bill could be revived next year, the second year of the 2-year cycle.
 
Don't forget, the House and Senate have a fairly comprehensive video recording system. It is easy to stream committee meetings, floor sessions, or even watch a recording of a past meeting.

Learn the Lingo

A 2 Year Cycle:The Georgia General Assembly runs on a 2 year cycle. We are currently in year 1 of the cycle. This means that any bill that does not pass this year remains active next year. Sometimes this works to our advantage since it gives us more time to pass a bill without starting over. However, this can also works to our disadvantage as a bill we oppose this year still has a chance of being passed next year. If a bill does not pass by the end of a 2 year cycle, it is dead and must be reintroduced in the next 2 year cycle.

How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

  • March 19 - Independent Living Day!
  • April 2 - Sine Die!

Public Policy for the People: 22 January, 2019

 

public policy for the people LS

Volume 5, Issue 22019 Legislative Session January 22, 2019

Call to Action:Sign up for GCDD Advocacy Days & make sure your legislators have not changed by visiting openstates.org!

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our Public Policy Phone Callsat 9:30 AM on 1/28, 2/11, 2/25, 3/11, 3/25. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read Public Policy for the People: 1/29, 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?

Looking Ahead

2019 GCDD Advocacy Days

Jan 30: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Day
Feb 12: Home & Community Based Waivers Day
Feb 14: Everyone Out! of Institutional Settings Day
Feb 27: Direct Support Professionals Day
Mar 6: Supported Decision Making Day

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Welcome to the second edition of Public Policy for the People! We at GCDD are thrilled to have you along for the ride this legislative session. For a quick recap of GCDD's legislative priorities, glance through Issue 1 of Public Policy for the People, Legislative Preview Edition.

As you may know, the legislative session began Monday, January 14. This is also the same day as Governor Brian Kemp’s inauguration. Since then, we have had the opportunity to hear from Governor Kemp three times: his inauguration speech, his Egg & Issues speech, and his State of the State. We encourage you to make time to listen them in the week to come.

Of note, Governor Kemp touched on healthcare in his State of the State address. Kemp explained, "while different parts of our state have unique challenges and concerns, all Georgians deserve a patient centered healthcare system that puts families first. The status quo is unacceptable….I have included $1 million dollars in the Department of Community Health’s budget to craft state flexibility options for Georgia’s Medicaid program. We will expand access without expanding a broken system that fails to deliver for patients, we will drive competition and improve quality while encouraging innovation. I will work with the legislature to grow the rural hospital tax credit, tackle the doctor shortage, and build a healthier Georgia."

Other highlights included a proposal of $69 million dollars in one time school security grants, $8.4 million increase for the APEX program to address mental health in schools, and a $3,000 salary increase for public school teachers in Georgia.


Learn the Lingo


Fiscal Year:
The state of Georgia organizes their budget by fiscal years, which do not line up with calendar years. You will often see Fiscal Year abbreviated to FY. Fiscal Year 2020, or FY20, covers July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020. Some people call this the Big Budget.

Amended Fiscal Year (AFY):Since it is hard to predict exact spending so far in advance, the Georgia General Assembly always passes an Amended Fiscal Year Budget to reflect actual spending. This is often abbreviated to AFY. Some people call this the little budget.


Following the State of the State, Governor Kemp released his official budget recommendations. It is important to remember that these are merely a blueprint for the House and Senate to use when crafting the budget. The budget only includes changes, meaning increases or decreases in funding. Programs that saw no change in funding will not be listed.

We do want to highlight the following sections for you. You can find the entire budget here.

In particular, you might find page 39 of the budget interesting as it lists all the Olmstead related services in Georgia.

Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities:

  • AFY19: $8.4 million increase to the GA Apex Program to provide support counselors for mental health services in high schools.
  • AFY19: $7 million increase to maintain DBHDD's state hospital system.
  • FY20: $3.6 million increase to annualize the cost of 125 NOW and COMP waivers.
  • FY20: $4.2 million increase to fund an additional 125 NOW and COMP waivers.
  • FY20: $2.4 million increase for mental health consumers to comply with the Department of Justice settlement agreement.
  • FY20: $8.2 million increase to annualize the cost of behavioral health crisis centers.
  • FY20: $10.5 million increase for behavioral health services.
  • FY20: $10.2 million increase for behavioral health crisis bed capacity.
  • FY20: $7 million increase to maintain DBHDD's state hospital system.

Department of Community Health:

  • AFY19: $495,264 increase for background checks for owners and employees of long term care facilities pursuant to SB 406 (2018 Session).
  • AFY19: $5.6 million increase to replace Medicaid Management Information System.
  • AFY19: $1 million increase for an external consultant to review and analyze Medicaid waiver options for the purposes of drafting and preparing waiver policy recommendations for approval from the Governor's office.
  • AFY19: Utilize $25,000 in existing funds for the design, development, and implementation of a caregiver registry pursuant to the passage of SB 406 (2018 Session).
  • AFY19: $480,000 increase in tobacco settlement funds to serve medically fragile children through the Champions for Children program.
  • FY20: $737,639 increase for four additional positions, training, and associated operational costs for increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities pursuant to SB 406 (2018 Session).

Department of Human Services:

  • FY20: $957,087 increase for 12 adult protective service caseworkers to investigate reports of abuse, neglected, and/or exploitation of seniors and adults with disabilities
  • FY20: $366,752 increase for 5 additional public guardianship caseworkers to coordinate and monitor all services needed for the health and welfare of guardianship clients.
  • FY20: $338,802 increase to sustain options counseling, program outreach, and quality assurance for the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC).
  • FY20: $849,951 increase for 50 additional Medicaid -Aged, Blind, and Disabled eligibility

Department of Education:

  • AFY19: $822,191 increase for midterm adjustment for the Special Needs Scholarship
  • AFY19: $68.8 million increase for one-time funds for school security grants
  • FY20: $3.5 million decrease to the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) to reflect enrollment, training, and experience decline.
  • FY20: $3.8 million increase for Preschool Disabilities Services to reflect enrollment growth, training, and experience
  • FY20: A $3,000 pay increase for all certified teachers and certified employees in GA's public schools.

Bills to Watch:

  • HB 1: Rename the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship the Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship (Rep. Jesse Petrea).
  • HB 18: Automatic registration of voters who obtain, renew, or change their name or address on a drivers license card in Georgia (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 19: Comprehensive state civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Expands to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and age. Removes the term handicap and leaves the pre-existing term of disability (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 37: Expand Medicaid Now Act (Rep. Robert Trammell)
  • SB 3: provide for a program of premium assistance to enable eligible individuals to obtain health care coverage (Sen. Michael Rhett)
  • SB 10: to provide that possession of certain quantities of marijuana constitute a misdemeanor (Sen. Harold Jones)
  • SB 22: Increased Privacy and security for mail-in absentee ballots (Sen. Donzella James)
  • SB 24: Requires the registration of certain electric personal assistive mobility devices (Sen. Donzella James)

How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

  • Jan 22 - Rev Up Call! Today at 10 AM. 712-775-7031, PIN 608190939.
  • Jan. 25 - Georgia Budget & Policy Institute's Insights Conference!
  • Feb. 6 & 7 - Senior Week!
  • Mar. 4 - National Federation of the Blind, Georgia Affiliate Day!
  • Mar. 19 - Independent Living Day!

Public Policy for the People: 26 February, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 52018 Legislative Session February 26, 2018

Call to Action: Call your Senator & members of the Senate Human Development & Public Health Appropriations Subcommittee. Ask them to include $11.9 million in funding for 475 NOW/COMP waivers, as well as $4.8 million in supported employment services to DBHDD's FY 19 Budget.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Feb 28: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

The energy down here is palpable. Bills are flying off the printer, all the while amendments are being tacked on. With Crossover Day fast approaching this Wednesday, the flurry is only expected to get worse. Remember, if a bill does not pass out of its original chamber by Crossover Day, the bill has no chance of becoming law this year.

Since our last newsletter, GCDD has hosted two Advocacy Days over the past two weeks. One for Medicaid and one for Inclusive Post Secondary Education. We are constantly reminded of the importance of our advocacy when we meet people who are unfamiliar with the topic of the day. As always, we could not do it without the many advocates that travel from all over the state to speak with their legislators.

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, passed out of the House Industry and Labor Committee last week. GCDD's Executive Director Eric Jacobson testified, as did many employers, employees with disabilities, GVRA, The Arc, and SPADD. It is now waiting in the Rules Committee, Remember, it must pass out of the Rules Committee and pass a floor vote in the House by the end of Wednesday to stand a chance of becoming law.

HB 768, sponsored by Representative Scott Hilton, was heard in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Setzler Subcommittee late in the day last Thursday. This bill looks at how difficult it is to prove you have an intellectual disability in capital punishment cases. GCDD's Public Policy Director testified in favor of the bill, as did many others. At the end of the multi-hour hearing, the committee chose not to call a vote on the bill, requiring more time to make amendments. On Friday afternoon, the sponsor of the bill presented an amendment to the subcommittee. At the time of publication, this issue continues to evolve. We will keep you updated as to HB 768's progress over the next week.

Regarding the money, the House and Senate have both passed the Amended Fiscal Year 18 Budget. The next stop for the Amended Budget is conference committee where the House and Senate will iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions. They have both moved on to the Fiscal Year 19 Budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee will be holding a Public Hearing this Tuesday, February 27th at 10:00 am in Room 450 of the Capitol Building. GCDD is looking for Georgians on the waiting list for NOW & COMP waivers willing to share their story. If you are interested in testifying, please contact Hanna Rosenfeld at 404.275.8119

The GA General Assembly has released their tentative calendarfor the the rest of session.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the LingoThe Well: The podium at the front of the chamber where members go to speak to the whole chamber.

Veto: When the Governor formally rejects a bill that the General Assembly passes during the legislative session. The General Assembly can only over-ride the veto with a vote of two-thirds in each chamber.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We hope you enjoyed our previous UNLOCK! articles. We discussed how you can advocate for issues that are important to you, and now we wanted to share how UNLOCK! has used power in numbers to advocate this session. Sharing your story is important, and it can be even more powerful when we come together as a group to advocate for issues. Legislators will pay attention when a large group of people are working together to advocate for common concerns. UNLOCK! brings disability advocates from across Georgia together to support issues we all care so much about.

This session we have advocated for:

  • DD waivers
  • supported employment
  • inclusive post-secondary education programs
  • and many more important issues

As the session continues, we hope that you will join UNLOCK! to help individuals with disabilities and their families have the opportunity to live, work, and play in their communities.

Join us at our next Advocacy Day at the Gold Dome on February 28!

If you are interested in joining UNLOCK! Please click here to enter your information.

Also, if you have not already, please join the UNLOCK! Coalition, a partnership of powerful policy advocates and agencies, by clicking the link below to complete your membership. We hope to see you at the Gold Dome on February 14!


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 288: (Kirby) Creates penalties for using fake service animals, penalties for harming a service animal, and would allow the Department of Human Services to "authorize private service organizations... to create and issue information cards containing the department's seal" that explain the rights and penalties associated with service animals.

HB 482: (Trammel) Educational Scholarship Act - Allows parents to use the money the state would have spent on their child's public school education to pay for private school education.

HB 635: (Cooper) The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act - creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly.

HB 645: (Peake) To legalize possession of low THC oil and cultivation of cannabis for the production of low THC oil in the state of Georgia under certain conditions/medical conditions.

HB 668:(Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old.

HB 669:(Trammel) Medicaid Expansion Bill.

HB 740: (Nix) Requires local school systems to conduct certain screenings before a student, in pre-K through third grade, can be expelled or suspended for more than five days. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the school will hold an IEP or Section 504 meting to review the supports currently being provided as part of their IEP or Section 504 Plan.

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year.

HB 776: (Douglas) The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-term Care Facilities Act allows for the placement and use of electronic monitoring devices by the resident of a long term care facility (such as a any skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, assisted living community, or personal care home) within their personal room.

HB 801: (Hilton) Allows the GA Special Needs Scholarship to cover services, therapies, and other materials, as opposed to only tuition.

HB 803: (Willard) Prohibits the trafficking of an adult with a disability.

HB 844: (Houston) Revises provisions of the GA Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons, specifically around membership of commission, as well as creates a multi-agency task force to provide recommendations for improvements to the GA General Assembly and the Governor.

HB 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition; pprovide for eligibility for enrollment; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

HB 891: (Gilliard) States that the Department of Human Services, the courts, or a child placing agency cannot deny someone child placement, child custody, visitation, guardianship, or adoption solely or primarily because the individual is blind.

HR 1257: Creates the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings

SB 118: (Unterman) Raises the age limit to age 12 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies.

SB 322: (James) Requires non-electric personal assistive mobility devices to have front and rear reflectors when used on highways or sidewalks, as well as all electric and nonelectric personal assistive devices sold after December 31, 2018 to have reflectors.

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force.

SB 406: (Strickland) The Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program establishes minimum standards for conducting criminal background checks of owners, applicants for employment, and direct access employees at facilities such as a personal care home, assistive living community, private home care provider, home health agency, provider of hospice care, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, intermediate care home, or adult day care facility.

SB 408: (Jackson) Allows for individuals with autism to request a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor, special education instructor, clinical social worker, or any other mental or behavioral health professional be present at an interview by a local law enforcement officer.

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services.

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.


Other Days of Note:

Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project
Mar 1: Housing Day at the Capitol with Housing Georgia

Public Policy for the People: 26 March 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 72018 Legislative Session March 26, 2018

Call to Action:Please call your State Representative and tell them why HR 1257 is needed to help study the problem of why Georgians with disabilities cannot find and retain qualified caregivers.

Keep Up-To-Date: IMPORTANT UPDATE

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • NOTE: With the close of the 2018 Legislative Session fast approaching, we will stop publishing the legislative edition of Public Policy for the People on a bi-monthly basis, instead returning to our regular quarterly schedule. Keep an eye out for the Spring edition of Making A Difference Magazine for our Legislative Wrap Up article.

Who are my state legislators?


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

GCDD is saddened by the passing of former Georgia Governor Zell Miller. He will always be remembered for his belief in the power of education, most evident through his creation of the HOPE Scholarship Program. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this trying time.

As of right now, the legislative session is scheduled to end this Thursday. Indeed, Day 39 is tomorrow, March 27th and Day 40 is March 29th.

A few updates:

SB 406, Georgia's Long-term Care Background Check Program, an initiative of the Georgia Council on Aging, has been passed by the Senate and the House. Due to a small change in the House, the bill must return to the Senate for a final vote. his is a great first step and GCDD looks forward to working with DCH to expand the program to include more individuals that are served in home and community based services.

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, has been passed by the House and Senate. It now sits on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature. Remember, this bill creates an Employment First Council in Georgia to advise the Governor and General Assembly on future steps to move Georgia closer to an employment first state.

HB 803, sponsored by Representative Willard, passed out of committee last week. This bill defines the human trafficking of an adult with a disability or the elderly as a felony. It is currently waiting in the Rules Committee, where it must first be voted out before it can reach the Senate for a floor vote.

"The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act," sponsored by Representative Sharon Cooper has had an interesting path this legislative session. As a quick reminder, this bill would create multi agency teams established in each judicial circuit to investigate adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The bill now has two versions, SB 202 and HB 635. Both now await a vote in the Senate next week. The reason there are two versions of the bill is because HB 635 was the original bill, and SB 202 was a bill that was gutted and all text replaced by "The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act."

HB 65, which would create a Joint Study Commission on THC Medical Oil Access to study in-state access to medical cannabis and THC oil, passed the the Senate on Friday. Due to an amendment in the Senate, HB 65 will need to go back to the House for a vote before Sine Die.

HR 1257, sponsored by Representative Petrea, would create the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings. It is currently waiting in the Rules Committee where it must first be voted out, before it can be scheduled for a vote in the House. If you have not already done so, please call your State Representative and explain to them why HR 1257 is needed to help study the problem of why Georgians with disabilities cannot find and retain qualified caregivers.

SB 118, sponsored by Senator Unterman would raise the age limit to 20 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies has passed the House. Due to a substitute in the House, it will need to return to the Senate for a vote before Sine Die.

HB 891, carried by Representative Gilliard, received a hearing last week in the House Judiciary - Civil - Kelley Subcommittee. Despite not making Crossover Day, advocates had the opportunity to educate the committee on the need for such a bill to ensure parents who are visually impaired or blind are not discriminated against in matters of child custody, guardianship, placement, or adoption. We look forward to seeing this bill re-introduced next year.

FY 19 Budget:The Senate has passed their own version of the Fiscal Year 19 Budget.

A few highlights from the Senate Version that differed from the House version of the FY 19 Budget:

  • The Albany Advocacy Resource Center received an increase of $220,000
  • The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism received an increase of $200,000
  • The Statewide Independent Living Council received an increase of $100,000 for home access modifications
  • A four percent increase in reimbursement rates for autism services statewide - $681,493
  • Increase in funds for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for citizens with disabilities in southwest Georgia - $100,000 (The House had put in $200,000, the Senate reduced to $100,000)
  • Funds for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children Equipment received an increase of $20,000
  • Funds to increase the occupational, speech, and physical therapy rates in the Babies Can't Wait program - $1,103,716 (House previously had included an increase of $551,858)
  • Transfer funds from Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency: Vocational Rehabilitation Program to the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to provide ongoing support and scholarships for the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program - $500,000

The House and Senate have now entered Conference Committee to come to some agreement over their differences. With Sine Die this Thursday, we should not have to wait long for the final version of the FY 19 Budget.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the Lingo

SINE DIE:
The last day of the Georgia General Assembly's legislative session.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

We have had a great time learning together about the legislative process through the UNLOCK! articles. Throughout the legislative session, we looked up your Legislators on openstates.org then discussed how to contact them. We learned how to share our story while meeting with those legislators then looked at how a bill becomes a law. Now, as we leave the state legislative session, we want to look ahead to next year. It is very important that everyone is registered to vote and gets involved with Rev Up Georgia.

To register to vote, click here.

To find out who is running in your district, click here.

To get involved with Rev Up, click here:

Join the UNLOCK Coalition Here


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 668: (Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old. (Senate Rules Committee)

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons (Senate Rules)

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations. (Senate Rules)

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services. (Senate Rules)

Public Policy for the People: 27 February 2017

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 5   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   27 February 2017

Let's get to work. Pick up the phone and call your Senator and Representative tomorrow! There is no time to waste and this will only take a moment!

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip ModesittHow was Advocacy Day?

I was at the Capitol for Advocacy Day. Advocacy Day at the Capitol is where a bunch of students get together from Inclusive Post-Secondary Programs, like the one here at Kennesaw State University, to talk with legislators. I talked with legislators about what it means to have a disability. I also talked with all of the legislators about what it means to live in a university wide Residential Community. It means you get to socialize with other people of my age. I thought the day went pretty well and I would want to go to the Capitol for Advocacy Day again next year.

What is your goal for when you graduate?

My goal is to get a real paying job after I graduate. I would like to work at Must Ministries and Sparkles Roller Skating Rink. I would like to work at Sparkles Roller Skating Rink so I could be a D.J. and remix all the songs. I would like to work at Must Ministries because it is my passion and I would like to stock all the shelves and help the customers.

Working is important to me because I want to get a real paying job. It would give me more independence and it would also teach me time management. It would also give me the skills that I need to pursue a career like this after I graduate.

Having an internship here at Kennesaw State University's Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth has helped me with this process of getting a real paying job after I graduate by teaching me the skills and giving me the experience I will need. Having an internship at the Georgia Council and Developmental Disabilities has taught me the experience I need to interact with my coworkers and it also has taught me to interact professionally and how important being on time is.

Looking Ahead

Today is Day 25 in the Georgia General Assembly and everyone is in a mad dash to get their bill passed before Crossover Day this Friday. If a bill does not move from its original chamber into the other chamber by Friday it is dead until next year.

But first the Big Budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The House passed their version of the Budget on February 16. Of note, there were no new DD waivers added besides the 250 recommended by the Governor as required by the Department of Justice Settlement Agreement. Remember, these waivers are mostly to move people out of the state hospitals. While a very important goal, this will not make a dent in the 8,688 Georgians waiting for a DD Waiver.

There was some exciting news in the world of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) though. Simply put, IPSE got a big raise. Let me explain, up until this point, the IPSE funding of $200,000 from the Georgia General Assembly was funneled through GCDD. The House recommended that $25,000 stay with GCDD to provide technical assistance and the remaining $175,000 will move to the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA). The House also recommended an increase of $325,000 in state dollars for IPSE. GVRA is one of those agencies that has a fabulous federal match, meaning for every $1 Georgia spends, the federal government kicks in $4. So the $500,000 in state dollars allocated for IPSE could total up to $2.5 million after the federal match. This money is earmarked both for scholarships and operating expenses of the IPSE programs.

While you should definitely pat yourself on the back for your awesome advocating which resulted in this increase for IPSE funding, there is still a lot of work to do so please don't get too comfortable. We need your help to advocate for more DD Waiver funding while the Senate is still deciding. Please call your Senator tomorrow, February 28th!

 
Calling Senator Renee Unterman: (404) 463-1368

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list. We need you to add $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers.

Also, please keep the House's increase in funds for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Thank you.

 

 
Calling Senator Jack Hill: (404) 656-5038

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am calling to tell you we need more DD waivers because we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list. We need you to add $12.1 million for 6 months of funding for more DD Waivers.

Also, please keep the House's increase in funds for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

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 waiversbecause we have almost 9,000 people on the waiting list.

Please tell Senator Unterman to add

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

2.  Also, please keep the House's increase in funds for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

Thank you.

       Go to openstates.org to find out who your Senator is.

The Family Care Act, SB 201, would allow employees to use up to five days of their earned sick leave to care for a loved one. This would only apply to employees that work at least 30 hours a week at a business that employees over 25 people and already offers sick leave. The author of the Family Care Act, Senator Butch Miller, worked very hard on the version that passed the Senate, taking input from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and included their requested changes and additions to the bill. SB 201 passed the Senate this morning with a vote of 41 Yea, 10 Nay, and 1 Senator that did not vote. It will now move on to the House of Representatives. We need you to call your Representative today and tell them you support SB 201, the Family Care Act.

Another bill we care a lot about is HB 343, which would update Georgia code to replace the offensive 'MR word' with 'intellectual disability.' This bill is sponsored by freshmen Representative and Parent Advocate Scott Hilton. HB 343 unanimously passed the House this morning. It is now on to the Senate, which means we need you to call your Senator and tell them you support HB 343.

Lastly, SB 193, Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disability, which is sponsored by Senator Elena Parent, has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has not been scheduled for a hearing. With Crossover Day coming up, we are running out of time. We need you to call the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them to schedule SB 193 for a hearing before Crossover Day.

Senator Jesse Stone: (404) 463-1314

Senator Bill Cowsert: (404) 463-1366

Senator Blake Tillery: (404) 656-0089

Senator Hunter Hill: (404) 463-2518

Senator John F Kennedy: (404) 656-0045

Senator William Ligon Jr.: (404) 463-1383

Senator Joshua McKoon: (404) 463-3931

Senator Curt Thompson: (404) 463-1318

Senator Greg Kirk: (404) 463-5258

Senator Harold Jones II: (404) 463-3942

 
Calling the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee:

Hello my name is _(your name)______.

I am calling to tell you that I support SB 193 because it would change the standard to prove intellectual disabilities in Capital Cases and protect Georgians with intellectual disabilities from being executed for the crimes. We need you to schedule a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee before Crossover Day.

Thank you.

Other news, GCDD had a very successful advocacy day last Thursday. Advocates from all over Georgia came together to talk with their legislators about Employment. Extra exciting was the two groups of high school students who came to advocate for their futures. We hope in the future to see more student groups involved. We also want to give a big thanks to retired Congressman Tony Coelho, father of the Americans with Disabilities Act, who came and spoke with our advocates and addressed the Senate at the invitation of the ever supportive Senator Butch Miller.

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • 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)

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

Other Events


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 bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    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. - Mar 13, Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

Sine Die: Some of you may recognize this as a repeat from our Legislative Primer, but in case you missed that issue let us take a moment to review this very important term. Sine Die is Latin for "without day." In Georgia, sine die refers to Day 40 which is the last day of session. This year, sine die will be on March 30. This is the last day a bill can pass, otherwise it must wait until the next year. Fun Fact: legislators celebrate by throwing paper up in the air - similar to the last day of school.

New Bills to Watch

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

SB 237: Would require motorized wheelchairs and scooters sold in Georgia to have reflectors. (Donzella James).
HB 486: Proxy Caregivers: Would allow non-medical professionals to train proxy caregivers to perform health maintenance activities for disabled individuals.

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bil

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 http://medicaid.publicrep.org/, http://medicaid.publicrep.org/feature/georgia/, https://t.co/HLbadB9lj4 or http://www.c-c-d.org/. 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.

Public Policy for the People: 28 January, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 32018 Legislative Session January 28, 2018

Call to Action: Call your State Rep. Ask them to support the Governor's rec. for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers,and then ask for an additional 475 waivers for a total of 600 new NOW/COMP waiver slots.

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?


Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Jan 31: Employment
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

What a wild two weeks under the Gold Dome! With snow, budget hearings, and advocacy days - GCDD's Public Policy Team has been quite busy.

GCDD held its very first Advocacy Day of 2018, focusing on DD Waivers. Despite some minor technical difficulties with our Facebook live stream, the day was a huge success. We hope you will register for some of our upcoming advocacy days.

We also ran into advocates at the following events: Spectrum Day, Mental Health Day, and Sickle Cell Day. Its always so nice to see other friendly faces down at the Capitol.

DBHDD also released their Planning List Report: Multi Year Plan in response to the budget language we all advocated for last year. One key point is DBHDD has suggested serving 600 new NOW/COMP waiver participants in Year 1, but has only asked for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers (also the Governor's recommendations). With the House of Representative's Appropriations Committees holding budget hearings at the moment, now is the time to make your voice heard! Be sure you have called your Representative to ask them to support the Governor's recommendation for 125 new NOW/COMP waivers, and then ask for an additional 475 waivers for a total of 600 new NOW/COMP waiver slots. Put in in your address to find out who your member in the House of Representatives at openstates.org

Both the House and the Senate have service animal bills now. The House bill, HB 288 would create penalties for using fake service animals, penalties for harming a service animal, and would allow the Department of Human Services to "authorize private service organizations...to create and issue information cards containing the department's seal" that explain the rights and penalties associated with service animals. The Senate version, SR 467 would simply create a study committee to explore the problem. See GCDD's Public Policy Director talking about the issue here.

Other things of note, GCDD attended the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute's Insights Conference. There we learned about "A People First Economic Vision for Georgia," GBPI's vision for Georgia's future. We encourage you to check it out.

Voices for Georgia's Children just released their Child Behavioral Health Workforce Analysis. Click here for the full report and here for the fact sheet.

The GA General Assembly also released their tentative calendar for the the rest of session.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.


Learn the LingoSine Die: Referring to the 40th Legislative Day, tentatively March 29th this year, Sine Die is the last day of the Georgia General Assembly. This means it is the last day a bill can pass and be sent to the Governor for signature.

Crossover Day: Always taking place on the 28th Legislative Day, tentatively February 28th this year, of the the GA General Assembly, Crossover Day is the deadline for legislation to move from the House to the Senate, or vice versa. If it does not make this deadline, the bill is dead.


Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We hope you took advantage of the information shared in our first UNLOCK! article. We shared the website, openstates.org, to help you find your legislator and their contact information.

Now, we encourage you to reach out and introduce yourself to your State Senator and State Representative. One terrific way to make this contact is by leaving a message with their office assistants. You can also ask for a meeting at their office if you need time for a longer conversation. Or - you can try "working the ropes" at the Capitol for a short conversation about a specific state legislative issue. Most of us have never heard of "the ropes", so here is a brief description:

  • The Senate and the House have “Chambers” on opposite sides of the 3rd floor of the State Capitol which are large meeting rooms where they come together, usually between 10am-noon on legislative days, to debate issues and discuss bills.
  • Just outside the doors of each chamber are red velvet ropes. Legislators are asked to leave the chamber to meet with advocates, lobbyists, and – YOU – their constituent at these ropes.
  • To make this happen, fill out a small form (white for the House and yellow for the Senate) with your legislator's name, your name, and what you would like to discuss. Be sure to include that you are a constituent!
  • Hand that sheet to one of the women located at the desk near the Chamber doors. They will hand the sheet to a Page who is then responsible for going into the Chamber to locate your legislator.
  • The legislator, if able, comes out to meet with you. She/he stands on the inside while you stay on the outside of the red velvet ropes.
  • This is your opportunity to briefly discuss an issue that matters to you. You will have about 2 to 3 minutes to discuss a focused, state legislative issue with your legislator.

Working the ropes can seem confusing the first time you try, but it gets easier with practice! If you would like additional training on working the ropes, please join us at the next GCDD Advocacy Day on Wednesday, January 31.

Also, join the UNLOCK! Coalition, a partnership of powerful policy advocates and agencies, by clicking the link below to complete your membership. Join us for our next article to learn about sharing your story. We hope to see you at the Gold Dome on January 31!

Vote on UNLOCK! Agenda Here!


Some Bills to Watch:

HB 668:(Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old.

HB 635: (Cooper) Creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly.

SB 322: (James) Requires nonelectric personal assistive mobility devices to have front and rear reflectors when used on highways or sidewalks, as well as all electric and nonelectric personal assistive devices sold after December 31, 2018 to have reflectors.

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force.

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations.

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services.

HB 663: (Bennett) Hate Crime Legislation.

HB 660: (Hanson) Hate Crime Legislation.

SB 316: (Jackson) Hate Crime Legislation.

HB 669: (Trammel) Medicaid Expansion Bill.

HB 160: (Tanner) Creates the Georgia Commission on Transit Governance and Funding.

SB 118: (Unterman) Change the age limit in private health care plan's coverage of autism to age 21.

HB 645: (Peake) To legalize possession of low THC oil and cultivation of cannabis for the production of low THC oil in the state of Georgia under certain conditions/medical conditions.

HB 482: (Trammel) Educational Scholarship Act - Allows parents to use the money the state would have spent on their child's public school education to pay for private school education.


Other Days of Note:

Jan 31: Champions for Children with Independent Living Georgia
Feb 7 & 8: Senior Week with CO-AGE
Feb 8: Independent Living Day with the Statewide Independent Living Council
Feb 15: ICM Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project

Public Policy for the People: 30 January 2017

public policy for the people header

Volume 3, Issue 3   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   30 January 2017

Today is Day 9 of the Georgia General Assembly. Plan to attend GCDD's Advocacy Day this Wednesday, Feb 1, to talk with your legislator about increasing funding for more DD waivers and for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education.

To all of our amazing advocates,

We at GCDD want to apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this morning. Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to use our conference call line for our weekly Monday morning Public Policy Call at 9:30am.

At this time, we have decided to simply wait until next week's Monday morning Public Policy phone call and not reschedule this week's call.

We hope you will give us another chance and join us next Monday, February 6 at 9:30am. We realize that one of the benefits of the call is creating a space to learn, ask questions, and discuss what is happening under the Gold Dome. Should you have any questions or want to speak more about anything covered in this issue, feel free to reach out to us.

Thank you,

Dawn Alford , & Hanna Rosenfeld,

The Advocates CornerPhillip Modesitt

Hello, my name is Phillip Modesitt and I am a student with a disability called Cerebral Palsy and Diabetes. I am 27 years old and I am from Atlanta, Georgia. I am also enrolled in a program called the Kennesaw State University Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth.

The issues that I face related to getting a good education, that I so well deserve, is increased funding for the Inclusive Post-Secondary education programs. I want increased funding because I want to get a really good education. It is important that I get a good quality education because I learn better that way. It is also important to me because it will be something that benefits me for the rest of my life.

A fun fact that I want to include is the first Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta used to be the Kimball Opera House. The Georgia General Assembly used it from 1869 to 1889. I am thankful for this opportunity to write about myself and the issues that I am passionate about.

To learn more about GCDD's budget ASK for the Inclusive Post-Secondary education programs, such as the one Phillip attends at KSU, click here and scroll down to "Support Students to Attend Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs in Georgia"

Looking Ahead

Plan to attend GCDD Advocacy Days. Register online at: bit.ly/2fRxoYX

  • Feb 1 – DD Waivers Advocacy Day 1 & Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Advocacy Day
  • 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)

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

Our Friend's Advocacy Days

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.
  • Join our Advocacy Network at bit.ly/GCDDAlerts
    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

  • In the Hopper?? A funny name for the place where legislators place their bills when they are ready to introduce them.
  • The Well? We haven't traveled back in time and I promise the water fountains in the Capitol are still working. "The Well" is the traditional name for the area at the front of the chamber containing the lectern or podium from which legislators address the full house during debate. The phrase "to take the well" means to come forward to speak to the full body after being recognized by the presiding officer for that purpose. With 180 members of the GA House of Representatives and 56 in the Senate, The Well helps keep order in the room.
  • CLOB? Not as weird as it sounds. CLOB for the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. That is quite a mouthful and so is affectionately referred to as CLOB instead. It is right across the street from the Capitol and is home to many legislator's offices. As the number of legislators has grown, they no longer all fit in the Capitol.

Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Today marks Day 9 of the 2017 General Assembly. Only 31 days to go before the gavel falls for the last time in 2017! Of course those 31 days will likely be spread out, meaning we will likely be in session until March at least!

Since we last spoke, GCDD has been very busy. Every day brings another committee meeting or legislator to speak with down at the Capitol. If you are ever curious, I encourage you to come down and sit in on a committee hearing. It is really quite something watching Georgia's government at work. If you want some company, feel free to reach out to GCDD's Public Policy Team and see where we will be -the more the merrier. To find out when committee meetings are, go to bit.ly/GAHouseMeetings and bit.ly/GASenateMeetings.

The Amended Fiscal Year 2017 Budget was passed by the House Appropriations Committee. While there were no changes in the DBHDD budget, the DCH budget had a few changes. If you are interested in seeing the specific changes, click here for the tracking sheet. It shows the Governor's recommendations and the House's recommendations side by side. Quick tip, DCH is on page 22.

The entire House voted and passed their version of the budget. It has now been sent over to the Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee will make some changes, the Senate as a whole will pass it, and we will then have two different budgets -the House and the Senate's. Senators and Representatives will enter into something called a Conference to come to an agreement. The compromise filled budget will then be sent to the Governor to sign. Remember though, this is only the Amended Fiscal Year 17 Budget, Georgia must still go through this whole process again with the Fiscal Year 18 Budget.

Moving on to Proxy Caregiving. The House Human Relations and Aging Committee held a hearing about Proxy Caregiving last week. For those of you who don't know, proxy caregiving is when a medical professional trains a caregiver to perform health maintenance activities (any activity which, if not for the disability, the person could likely perform for themselves). The Service Providers Association for Developmental Disabilities (SPADD) expressed concerns relating to challenges they face with medication administration as a health maintenance activity in certain residential settings. GCDD testified to ask the committee to ensure any potential solutions that are considered not cause any negative consequences to those who currently benefit from proxy caregiving. We will keep you posted on what we learn in terms of what the committee may recommend based on the testimony they heard. For a quick refresher on Proxy Caregiving, click here.

The Family Care Act: While it has yet to be dropped in the hopper, we will keep you posted on when it does and let you know the bill number so you can support it! Remember, Senator Butch Miller is sponsoring, so if you do see him be sure to thank him. As soon as we have a bill number, we will send out. In the meantime, be sure to come out February 28 to show your support for the Family Care Act as they will be one of the participating organizations for GCDD Advocacy Days.

The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute held their annual conference to discuss their analysis  of the budget. GCDD's Public Policy team was in attendance for a full day of learning. Of note, most speakers agree that the big focus this session will be on healthcare and education. We also spent quite a bit of time on the 2018 Fiscal Year Budget. Here are a few highlights courtesy of the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. If you feel like putting your policy wonk hat on for a moment, I recommend you click here for their full report.

  • Despite 2018 being Georgia's biggest budget yet, in terms of per person spending we are just below our pre-recession levels.  
  • Education and Healthcare represent 2/3 of Georgia's budget.
  • Georgia's Rainy Day Fund is just over $2 billion, enough to fund Georgia's many government functions for 30 days.

New Bills to Watch

Click here for status updates on all the bills we are tracking.

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 70 would extend the hospital Medicaid financing program, often referred to as the bed tax, until 2020. (Miller)

HB 77 would require the Department of Education to work with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to provide all school systems in Georgia a list of training materials for awareness in mental health, behavioral disabilities, and learning disabilities. (Kendrick)

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bill

Public Policy for the People: 4 April 2017

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 8   •   2017 Wrapup Edition   •   4 April 2017

Catch our final Public Policy Call of the year, this Thursday at noon!
1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip Modesitt

Since the legislative session ended yesterday, there are a few laws that I would like to talk about. First, there is HB343, which gets rid of the phrase "mental retardation" and replaces it with "intellectual disability." This is important to me because mental retardation can have a very negative meaning surrounding it. Intellectual disability is a more modern label.

Next I would like to talk about SB 201, the Family Care Act. This allows employees to use up to five days of earned sick leave in order to care for immediate family members. For example, if someone's spouse got sick, they would be able to get paid time off to take care of them.

Lastly I would absolutely like to talk about the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education funding. This will allow more schools in Georgia to have Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs like the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth here at Kennesaw State University. It will also allow existing programs to be improved.

– Phillip James Modesitt

Events

The Georgia Advocates Group (GAG) Monthly Call

  • A cross disability coalition of advocates from across the state, joining together to exchange information and collaborate on various projects.
  • Next Call: April 19 at 1pm 641-715-3680 access code: 761894#
  • Contact: Charlie Miller at

The Georgia Accessible Transportation Coalition

  • Join with advocates from the across the state to discuss the need for more accessible transportation.
  • April 13, 10am to noon, at the Georgia Advocacy Office located at 1 West Court Square #625, Decatur, GA 30030.
  • Register online at http://bit.ly/2nHVQA0
  • Contact: Drew Walker at

GNETS Public Input

The Georgia Department of Education is in the preliminary stages of drafting a new state rule governing the GNETS program and services, and they want to hear from Georgia families.

The DOE is hosting four regional feedback meetings to get your input on the proposed draft rule regarding how Georgia provides supports for behavioral-related disabilities and the current GNETS programs.

GNETS feedback meeting locations:

Date

Meeting time

Buford City

April 12

3pm - 6pm

Dublin

April 13

3pm - 6pm

Thomasville

April 19

3pm - 6pm

Atlanta

June 15

9:30am

At these meetings, speakers will have 3 minutes to share their thoughts on the draft of the new proposed rule. If you cannot attend any of these meetings and want to provide public feedback, you can email your comments to and

The Georgia Advocacy Office & Parent 2 Parent of GA would like to support families and students with disabilities as you develop your speaking points, and invite you to join us in one of our several informational conference calls, where we will discuss the draft proposed rule and upcoming feedback meetings.

If you are interested in joining us for one of these conference calls, please follow the link below  to the session you would like to participate in. We will send the call-in information prior to the event.

Contact Leslie Lipson of the Georgia Advocacy Office with any questions about the prep sessions. or (404) 885-1234.

Looking Back

40 days has come and gone. The Georgia General Assembly closed up shop a little before 1am last Thursday, making Sine Die officially occurring on March 31st. Legislators will be returning home now to their various communities across Georgia, taking off their government hats and becoming our neighbors once again.

Overall it was a good session, due in large part to your hard work. We thank each and every one of you who made a phone call, wrote a letter, or showed up in person at an Advocacy Day. Your constant advocacy helped us achieve a lot. Still, we have a lot of work to do. We had some wins and some losses. GCDD is already starting to strategize for how we can be more successful next year. We will need your help, so please do stay tuned for advocacy opportunities throughout the off-season. This is a great time to connect with your legislators out in the community as well.

The Budget

The GA General Assembly did its one required job this year when they passed the FY 2018 Budget. Each chamber passed their own version and then came together in Conference Committee to compromise and produce the one version that now sits on Governor Nathan Deal's desk. If you would like to read more about each chambers version, click here.

The important thing to remember is that the Governor has 40 days to act on the budget. He has 3 options:

  • Sign the Budget - it becomes law
  • Don't sign the budget - it still becomes law
  • Line Item Veto -Governor can veto a specific line of the budget without vetoing the whole budget. This makes him extra powerful because anything in the budget is open to the Governor's veto, which would make that line null and void.

We had two budget asks this year.

1. DD Waivers

There was no increase in DD waiver funding this year, beyond that which is required by the DOJ Extension Agreement with DBHDD. This is a problem because the 250 spots added in the FY 18 Budget per the DOJ Extension Agreement will go mostly to transitioning people out of Gracewood State Hospital. While this is important, it will do little to reduce the 8,698 Georgians waiting for a DD waiver in GA.

We were able to get some budget language added, instructing DBHDD to:

57.15 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.

We hope to work with DBHDD as they make their multi-year plan to reduce and eliminate the waiting list.

2. IPSE

We advocated for $300,000 in new IPSE funding, to allow for scholarships to students and sustainability. We are very excited to say that we got an increase of $325,000 this year.

Of note, traditionally IPSE funding has been funneled through GCDD. This year, it was moved to GVRA (the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency), which is hoping to utilize their Federal 4 to 1 match. So in total GVRA will have $500,000 in state funds to use for IPSE programs, which could potentially draw down up to an additional $2 million.

We are excited to see all the good this additional funding will do for students across the state.

Non-Budget Asks. AKA Bills.

Unlike with the Budget where the Governor has a line item veto power, with Bills the Governor must either:

  • Veto the whole bill - does not become law
  • Sign the bill - becomes law
  • Don't sign the bill - becomes law

SB 201: The Family Care Act

With a few modifications, the Family Care Act has passed! It is now waiting for the governor's signature. We owe Senator Butch Miller a great deal of thanks for all his hard work. Should you see him, or simply want to reach out, please let him know how grateful Georgians with disabilities are for his hard work. Assuming Governor Deal signs the bill, Georgians who work 30 hours a week or more, at a company that employees over 25 people and does not offer its employees a stock ownership plan, will be able to use up to five days of earned sick leave to care for a family member.

Important note, there is a sunset provision. That means that unless the Family Care Act is extended, it will be repealed July 1, 2020.

Contact Cindia Cameron of the GA Job Family Collaborative at with any questions.

HB 343: The offensive MR word removed

We are excited to say that HB 343, which updates GA code to replace the offensive MR word with Intellectual Disability, passed this session. We thank Representatives Scott Hilton and David Dreyer, as well as Stacey Ramirez of The Arc GA for all their hard work.

Contact Stacey Ramirez of The Arc GA with any questions at

Looking Ahead

Employment First 

We at GCDD remain firm in the belief that everyone, regardless of their ability, can work with the right supports, should they so choose. GCDD looks forward to engaging with partners such as DBHDD and GVRA to ensure a time comes, soon, when GA commits to making employment, in an integrated setting, with pay at or above minimum wage for everyone a top priority.

Children's Freedom Initiative 

Many may not know, but there are still children with developmental disabilities under the age of 22 living in institutional settings here in GA. The Children's Freedom Initiative remains committed to the belief that all children should have a permanent loving home.

To learn more or find out how you can get involved, please contact Joe Sarra of the Georgia Advocacy Office at

SB 185: Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities

SB 185 did not make Crossover Day. While the bill is dead until next year, we are incredibly optimistic about SB 185's prospects moving forward. We thank Senator Elena Parent for all her hard work on this legislation. Despite not making Crossover Day, SB 185 did have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, Sub Committee B. While no vote was taken, this was an excellent opportunity for advocates to provide testimony on the issue and for the Senators present to ask questions and get more information on the issue. We have made incredible progress on this issue this year intend to spend the off-season preparing for the 2018 session!

To learn more, contact Caitlin Childs of the P.A.P.E Coalition at

Transportation

We continue to support the work of Drew Walker, of the American Wheelchair Society, to create the Georgia Accessible Transportation Coalition to advocate for accessible transportation across the state.

To learn more, or how you can get involved, contact Drew Walker at See above in the events section for how you can attend a GA Accessible Transportation Coalition Meeting.

Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry

We continue to support the work of our partner, the Georgia Council on Aging (CO-AGE), in working with Chairman Cooper, the Department of Community Health, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to create a registry where employers and families can perform checks on all personal care aides. This would expand the current registry, which only includes Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

To learn more, contact Kathy Floyd of the Georgia Council on Aging at

Other Bills of Interest awaiting Governor's signature:

SB 16: Expanding those who can use low THC Oil to include Alzheimer's disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette's syndrome, and those in hospice care. It also allows people from out of state, with a registration card issued by another state that allows the same possession of low THC oil as Georgia, to use the card when in GA for less than 45 days. (Ben Watson)

SB 70: Reauthorizes the collection of the Hospital Provider Fee until 2020. It is a fee based on a percentage of patient revenue and is used to fund GA's Medicaid program. (Butch Miller)

SB 149:Deals with School Resource Officer training and requirements, notably requiring school resource officers to be trained in interacting with students with mental health labels. (Emanuel Jones)

SB 206: Requires health plans to provide coverage of hearing aids for children, $3,000 per ear, every 48 months. Certain exceptions apply. (P.K. Martin)

HB 221: Updates GA's power of attorney statute to allow for protections for individuals who grant the power of attorney while also giving clarification for responsible caregivers and financial institutions. (Chuck Efstration)

HB 241:Cove's Law, this adds Krabbe disease to the list of metabolic and genetic conditions for which newborn screenings may be conducted. (Lee Hawkins)

HB 425:Clarifies that parents can, without penalty, opt their child out of standardized testing in schools, as well as choose for their child to use paper and pencil, rather than a computer, when testing. (Joyce Chandler)

HB 486:Allows for the DBHDD and DCH to select and approve a training curriculum for instructing Proxy Caregivers in medicine administration. Previously only medical professionals could provide the training, but now providers may train with the curriculum and not have to find a medical professional. (Tommy Benton)

HB 154:Allows dental hygienists working for a dentist to provide teeth cleanings within safety net settings such as schools, hospitals, clinics, federally qualified health centers, volunteer community health settings, senior centers, and family violence shelters. (Sharon Cooper

Public Policy for the People: 4 February, 2019

 

public policy for the people LS

Volume 5, Issue 32019 Legislative Session February 4, 2019

Calls to Action: Call your State Senator and Representative about our two budget requests (in red below).

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our Public Policy Phone Callsat 9:30 AM on 2/11, 2/25, 3/11, 3/25. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read Public Policy for the People: 2/18, 3/4, 3/18, 4/1

Who are my state legislators?

Looking Ahead

2019 GCDD Advocacy Days
Feb 12: Home & Community Based Waivers Day
Feb 14: Everyone Out! of Institutional Settings Day
Feb 27: Direct Support Professionals Day
Mar 6: Supported Decision Making Day

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Well advocates, since we last spoke your lawmakers have been spending much of their time on the state's budget. As a quick reminder, the budget process has five steps.

  1. Governor Kemp shares recommendations for the budget.
  2. The House of Representatives holds budget hearings, makes changes to Governor Kemp's recommendations, passes a bill, and then sends the bill to the Senate
  3. The Senate takes the House's version, holds budget hearing, makes changes, and then passes a bill.
  4. The House and Senate come together in Conference Committee to iron out any differences. Both the House and Senate must agree on the same bill.
  5. Then Governor Kemp will sign the bill, veto the bill, or line item veto the bill.

With a state budget over $26 million, the budget process is understandably slow and complex. On a positive note, this allows advocates such as yourself plenty of time to make an impact on the budget process by voicing your opinions. This is where we need your help!

If you have not already contacted your State Representative and Senator, please make plans to do so this week. Here at GCDD we have two budget requests for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. We need your help to educate our elected officials on why these budget requests are important to Georgia's disability community. You can your elected officials by visiting www.openstates.org

CALL TO ACTION: Please educate your State Senator and Representative on two things.

  1. Support the Governor’s recommendation for 125 NOW & COMP waivers, and add an additional $17.8 million to DBHDD’s FY20 budget to fund 525 more NOW & COMP waivers.
  2. For Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, increase legislative funding from the existing $500,000 to $1,000,000 in total within the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Budget.

On a more somber note, Senator Butch Miller introduced Senate Resolution 60 to honor the life and memory of one of Georgia's disability warriors, Justin A Pressley. The resolution aptly points out that "Justin leaves behind a glowing legacy as an indefatigable fighter who turned his disability into a quest to improve the lives of others." We hope you will join us at GCDD in remembering Justin and working towards a Georgia where all people can live, work, and play across Georgia's many communities.

Finally, the House and Senate have significantly increased their video recording system. Floor sessions and committee meetings can often be streamed live online. If you miss them, you can catch up in their archives.


Learn the Lingo

 
Appropriations Bill: Just another way of saying the bill deals with the state's budget.
 
Conference Committee: When the House and the Senate pass different versions of the same bill, they come together to work out their differences.


Bills to Watch:

  • HB 1: Rename the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship the Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship (Rep. Jesse Petrea).
  • HB 18: Automatic registration of voters who obtain, renew, or change their name or address on a drivers license card in Georgia (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 19: Comprehensive state civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Expands to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and age. Removes the term handicap and leaves the pre-existing term of disability (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 40: To require local school systems to conduct screenings for dyslexia (Rep. Sandra Scott).
  • HB 69: Altering the prior school year requirement for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program (Rep. Scot Turner).
  • HB 79: Establishment of procedural safeguards that require adherence to due process and equal protection rights of blind parents in the context of child welfare, foster care, adoption, and family law (Rep. Carl Gilliard).
  • HR 52: Encourage all schools, local educational agencies, and the state educational agency to recognize that dyslexia has a profound educational impact that must be addressed (Rep. John Corbett).
  • SB 10: to provide that possession of certain quantities of marijuana constitute a misdemeanor (Sen. Harold Jones)
  • SB 22: Increased Privacy and security for mail-in absentee ballots (Sen. Donzella James)
  • SB 24: Requires the registration of certain electric personal assistive mobility devices (Sen. Donzella James)
  • SB 48: To require that all kindergarten through second grade students are screened for dyslexia and increase dyslexia focused professional development for teachers (Sen. P.K. Martin IV).

How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

  • Feb. 6 & 7 - Senior Week!
  • Mar. 4 - National Federation of the Blind, Georgia Affiliate Day!
  • Mar. 19 - Independent Living Day!

Public Policy for the People: 8 January, 2018

 

public policy for the people enews

Volume 4, Issue 12018 Legislative Session January 8, 2018

Call to Action:Sign upfor 2018 Advocacy Days
and ask five friends to do the same.

Hello fearless advocates,

It is day one of the Georgia General Assembly and that means Public Policy for the People is back! For our new readers, Public Policy for the People is GCDD's bi-monthly legislative e-newsletter. It will keep you up to date on the happenings of the Georgia General Assembly, how that might impact Georgians with disabilities, and what you can do to influence the process. We hope you will stick with us over the next three months as we embark on the civic adventure that is Georgia's state legislature.

Talk with you soon,
Your Public Policy Team

Keep Up-To-Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357. First call will occur January 16 on account of MLK Day.
  • Join our Advocacy Network
  • Read upcoming Public Policy for the People newsletters: 1/16, 1/29, 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26

Who are my state legislators?

Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days

Jan 23: DD Waivers
Jan 31: Employment
Feb 14: Medicaid
Feb 22: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
Feb 15: UNLOCK! Coalition
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!


Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

What are GCDD's legislative priorities?

  • Increasing funding for DD Waivers so people can move off the NOW/COMP waiting list and receive the community-based supports they need
  • Prioritizing funded supports for competitive integrated employment opportunities
  • Ensuring level funding for Inclusive Post Secondary Education
  • Protecting Medicaid in Georgia
  • Removing barriers that result in children growing up in nursing facilities or private institutions

What is GCDD supporting?

  • Creating an Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry (CO-AGE Led)
  • Funding Aging & Disability Resource Centers (CO-AGE Led) - Click here for a quick Advocacy Ask!
  • Lowering the standard to prove intellectual disability in Georgia for capital punishment cases (P.A.P.E Coalition Led)
  • Furthering the UNLOCK! Coalition's Goals

What are my next advocacy steps?


Learn the Lingo

Bicameral: A fancy way of saying the Georgia General Assembly is made up of the House of Representatives & the Senate, as opposed to just having one.

Two Year Cycle: Every two years, the all members in the Georgia General Assembly run for re-election & all pending bills are wiped clean. We are in year two, which means that all bills introduced last year are still in play through the 2018 Session.

How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

Jan 8: First Day of Legislative Session
Jan 11: Healthcare Unscrambled with Georgians for a Healthy Future
Jan 15: March for Disability Rights in the MLK Day Jr Day Parade with disABILITY LINK
Jan 16: Champions for Children Day with Easter Seals
Jan 24: Autism Advocacy Day with Spectrum
Jan 25: Insights Policy Conference with Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Jan 31: Champions for Children with Independent Living Georgia
Feb 7 & 8: Senior Week with CO-AGE
Feb 8: Independent Living Day with the Statewide Independent Living Council
Feb 15: ICM Day with the Interfaith Children's Movement
Feb 26: Justice Day with the Georgia Justice Project

Public Policy for the People: April 1

 

public policy for the people LS

Volume 5, Issue 72019 Legislative Session April 1, 2019

CFI PhotoMembers of the Children's Freedom Initiative gathered last Friday with Representative David Dreyer and his colleagues Representatives Matthew Wilson, Sandra Scott, J. Craig Gordon, and Shelly Hutchinson to recognize the coalition's work to stop the institutionalization of children in Georgia.

Who are my state legislators?


 

 

Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Only one more legislative day to go! Indeed, the gavel will fall for the last time tomorrow evening, marking the end of the 2019 legislative session. Of note, this will be our last Public Policy for the People Legislative Newsletter. Our next edition will appear in the Spring edition of Making A Difference Magazine. You can expect a copy to arrive in our inbox mid-April, or find a copy at www.gcdd.org.
 
With that in mind, we will waste no more time and dive right in to our legislative updates.
 
Healthcare: The Governor signed SB 106 into law on March 27, officially empowering the Governor and the Department of Community Health to draft and submit a plan for Georgia's partial Medicaid expansion. Specifically, Governor Kemp may submit a 1332 Waiver to customize the private health insurance market and a 1115 Waiver to expand Medicaid for those living up to 100% of the federal poverty level. It is important to remember that this bill only grants Governor Kemp the authority to submit a waiver. There is still much work to be done. It is our hope that Governor Kemp will keep the needs of Georgian's with disabilities in mind as he crafts his waivers.
 
Budget: The House and Senate worked out their differences in Conference Committee on April 28. While you can find the full version of the FY 2020 budget online, we did want to highlight a few areas for you.
  • Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
    • $3.7 million to annualize 125 NOW and COMP waivers added in FY 19
    • $4.2 million to fund 125 new NOW and COMP waivers
    • $120,417 to fund a provider rate increase of 10% for Supported Employment for individuals with developmental disabilities
    • $50,000 in one time funding for permanent supported housing for individuals with developmental disabilities in Forsyth County and create a model plan for statewide utilization
    • Utilize $100,000 in existing funds to provide the final installment of the three-year plan for Georgia Options
    • $7 million to offset a reduction in Medicaid patient revenues to maintain ongoing state hospital system operations
  • Department of Community Health
    • $737,639 to fund four additional positions, training, and associated operations for increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities pursuant to SB406(2018 Session)
    • $513,000 to serve medically fragile children through the Champions for Children program
    • $401,524 in funds for the second installment of a two-year plan to increase the personal needs allowance for nursing home residents by $5 to meet the $20 per month requirement pursuant to the passage of HB2016(2017 Session)
    • $330,000 in funds for nursing homes to support enhanced background checks
  • Department of Human Services
    • $143,991 in funds for the second installment of a two-year plan to increase the personal needs allowance for nursing home residents by $5 to meet the $20 per month requirement pursuant to the passage of HB206 (2017 Session)
    • $1.3 million to fund 17 new adult protective services caseworkers
    • $366,752 to fund 5 new public guardianship caseworkers
    • $338,802 to sustain options counseling, program outreach, and quality assurance for the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC)
    • $157,000 for assistive technology to assist older Georgians, to be dispersed to the 9 Centers for Independent Living and 12 Area Agencies on Aging at approximately $7,500 per location
    • $849,951 to fund 50 new Medicaid Aged, Blind, and Disabled eligibility caseworkers
  • Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency
    • $149,733 to expand outreach of independent living for individuals with disabilities in undeserved areas
    • $105,500 Increase funds to provide a state match to deploy Academic Transition Teachers in Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) programs and, in collaboration with the Center for Leadership in Disability and the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, develop job descriptions and memorandums of understanding that are in compliance with Federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the federal grant fund to be implemented on July 1, 2019
Low THC: The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee made significant changes to HB 324. Scheduled for a vote in the Senate last Friday, the bill passed with a vote of 44 to 8. Among the many changes the Senate made include provisions to create the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission with the authority to import Low THC Oil from other states, as well directing the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University to research and cultivate Low THC Oil. Additionally, the Senate version of HB 324 allows for two private companies to cultivate in state. As the Senate changed the bill, a Conference Committee has been appointed to work out their differences.
 
Parental Rights: Spearheaded the National Federation of the Blind, Georgia Affiliate, HB 79 seeks to diminish the discrimination parents who are blind face when raising children. While the bill has now passed the House and the Senate, a few tweaks in the Senate Judiciary Committee mean HB 79 must return to the House for a final vote.
 
Don't forget, the House and Senate have a fairly comprehensive video recording system. It is easy to stream committee meetings, floor sessions, or even watch a recording of a past meeting.

Finally, to see all the bills GCDD is tracking, click here!


Learn the LingoVeto: In its most basic form, a veto is simply a rejection. When it comes to the legislative process in Georgia, a veto is when the Governor rejects a bill that the legislature has passed. If a bill is vetoed by the Governor, both the Senate and the House would need a 2/3 majority vote to override the Governor. This rarely occurs and so typically a veto is the end of a bill for that year.


How does a bill become a law?

Other Days of Note:

  • April 2 - Sine Die!

Public Policy For The People: Making a Difference Magazine Fall 2017

by Dawn Alford and Hanna Rosenfeld

The summer of 2017 was dedicated to advocating for Medicaid. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) joined other agencies, organizations, nonprofits and advocates to launch the No Cuts! No Caps! Campaign to bring attention to the dangers present for Georgians with disabilities in many of the healthcare proposals being discussed in the US Senate.

Georgia Capitol Gold DomeAs GCDD’s Executive Director Eric Jacobson shared in the Fall edition of Making a Difference magazine, “advocacy is the most important and effective way to get your voice heard.” This proved true across the nation as Georgians with disabilities joined the many voices rising across our great country to educate lawmakers on the dangers of cutting $800 billion from Medicaid. With all of your help, we were rewarded with the US Senate’s failure to pass the “Skinny Repeal” before their August recess.

Unfortunately, the fight resumed in September when the US Senate proposed yet another damaging healthcare bill that would be harmful to people with disabilities. The Graham-Cassidy Bill, sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), once again, included massive cuts to Medicaid and rolled back many consumer protections granted in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Thankfully, the advocacy of so many paid off and the Senate decided not to vote on this bill. While it is unclear at this time what the future may hold, it is clear that the desire for healthcare change is real and not going away any time soon. The need to advocate and raise our voices continues to be strong as we guard against any potential changes that would harm people with disabilities.

As we prepare for future fights, we must learn from our past experiences. We now know that few elected officials or members of the general public understand the Medicaid program and who it serves. For example, many do not realize the difference between Medicaid “expansion” through the ACA which Georgia chose not to take, and traditional Medicaid, which has been around for more than 50 years and funds the home and community based services upon which so many people with disabilities rely. This contributed to the false security that people with disabilities felt, believing that their form of Medicaid would somehow be protected from the cuts being proposed. In collaboration with many partners across the State and the nation, GCDD was reminded of the need to continually educate our advocates and communities. As long as Medicaid continues to be the lifeline to the community for people with disabilities, we at the GCDD will continue to educate and advocate for its survival.

Along with Medicaid advocacy, September was the month of hurricanes. These natural disasters reminded us that people with disabilities must advocate for themselves by speaking with their caregivers, family members and other trusted supports to develop a personal emergency plan for any kind of emergency they might face. They must also engage with community officials and ensure that they have incorporated the needs of people with disabilities into their disaster planning efforts. 

Dawn Alford is the GCDD Public Policy Director.

Hanna Rosenfeld is the GCDD Planning and Policy Development Specialist.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


Download pdf version of Making a Difference Spring 2017   Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Summer 2017

 

 

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Public Policy for the People: Making a Difference Magazine Fall 2018

The Disability Vote Counts! -- A Guide to Voting
by Hanna Rosenfeld, GCDD Planning & Policy Development Specialist

Voting is one of our most important rights and civic duties as citizens living in a democracy. When you participate in the election process, you help pave the path toward progress for people with disabilities. In Georgia, more than one million people have disabilities and approximately 652,000 are of voting age.

The following is a guide on voting for people with disabilities and everything you need to know about the election on November 6, 2018.

Disability Guide to Voting

Eligibility
To participate in the voting process in Georgia, you must be a citizen of the United States; a legal resident of Georgia and of the county in which you plan to vote; and 18 years of age by Election Day. Check your status through the Secretary of State’s website or contact your county voter registration office to see if you are registered to vote.

Assistance
If a voter with a disability is unable to sign his or her name; to see or mark the answers on the ballot; use the voting equipment; or cannot enter the voting booth without support, they may bring someone to help them.

A voter with a disability can receive support from any individual EXCEPT his or her employer, representative of his or her employer or a representative of his or her union, nor a poll worker or poll watcher, who is a resident of the precinct where the voter needing support is trying to vote.

Voters with disabilities can receive assistance from any other individuals including a mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, friend or child. Each individual assisting the voter with a disability must record his or her name on the elector’s voter certificate.

A voter with a disability is not required to have someone assist them at the polls – it is their choice.

Additionally, poll officers and workers are provided training regarding the use of voting equipment, procedures and all aspects of state and federal laws applicable to conducting elections.

Assistive Technology
For voters with disabilities who require accommodation in the form of assistive technology, there are accessible touch screen voting equipment options provided at the polls that allow for assistance, but give more privacy and independence for voters to select their choices. These options include:

  • An audio ballot for those with visual impairment or who are blind, equipped with headphones and a number keypad similar to an automated phone service.
  • A magnifying feature that is available on every touch screen voting unit in Georgia, which allows voters to enlarge the print on the ballot.
  • Touch screen voting units that allow a voter to vote while sitting in a chair or wheelchair.

Reading the Ballot
To view a sample of your personal ballot, visit the My Voter Page (MVP) on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website. You will need to create an MVP login using your name, county and birth date to download your ballot.

Statewide Races
Every registered voter in the State of Georgia will be able to vote for all these offices:

  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Secretary of State
  • Attorney General
  • Commissioner of Agriculture
  • Commissioner of Insurance
  • State School Superintendent
  • Commissioner of Labor
  • Public Service Commissioners

Local Races
Only registered voters in designated areas can vote for these offices. The ballot you receive at the polls will show ONLY your candidates here. This may include:

  • US Senate & Representatives
  • Georgia Senate & Representatives
  • County or City Boards of Education
  • County or City Boards of Commissioners
  • Mayors & City Councils

Special Items
At the end of the ballot, special items will be listed that you will be asked to approve. It is a good idea to review these items beforehand to understand what is proposed. These may include:

  • Proposed Constitutional Amendments
  • Proposed Statewide Referenda
  • Special Elections

You can review your sample ballot at My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Statewide Elections

Governor
Candidates for GovernorThe former House Minority Leader (2010-2017) and Atlanta resident Stacey Abrams, Democrat, believes that, “Georgia must pursue expansion of Medicaid as both a stabilization and growth model for delivery of healthcare and for economic growth.” Indeed, Abrams went so far as to say that her first priority if elected would be to “[see through the] expansion of Medicaid in the State of Georgia to cover 500,000 Georgians; save our rural hospitals; and make certain that we start to create the thousands of jobs to which Georgia is eligible if we expand Medicaid in the State.”

An Athens resident, Brian Kemp, Republican, has served as Secretary of State of Georgia since 2010. When asked what his first priority would be if elected, Kemp responded, “Well, day one I am going to create a Putting Georgians First Committee that will be made up of business people, not bureaucrats. It is going to start looking at cutting government regulations, cutting red tape. This is really part of a Conservative Four Point Plan I have to make Georgia number one for small businesses in the country.” Regarding Medicaid, Kemp has reportedly said we should be lowering healthcare costs without giving more funding to Medicaid.

Chair of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, Ted Metz lives in South Cobb. When asked about Medicaid expansion, Metz stated, “With removal of strings attached to Medicaid grants which put 159 agencies in-between people and their doctors, ending certificate of needs for competitive facilities, and using innovative approaches to healthcare, expansion would be the right thing.”

Candidates for School Superintendent

State School Superintendent
The current State School Superintendent, Richard Woods, has served since 2015 and is running for a second term as the Republican candidate. Woods is a Georgia native. Raised in Fitzgerald, he now calls Tifton home. A former public school teacher, Woods created a Student Advisory Council and launched the “Georgia Career Pipeline tool to help local districts match career pathways offered at high schools to area job demands.” When asked whether the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support, or GNETS, was constitutional, Woods did not commit either way. He did note however, “I think [it provides] a good role. [GNETS acts] as a bridge. Instead of moving from the home school to a residential facility, it gives you a middle ground.”

Woods is challenged by the Democratic nominee Otha Thornton. An Elberton native, Thornton currently lives in Richmond Hill with his wife and two children. He was the first African American male to serve as President of the National PTA, and Thornton’s top priorities include empowering families and educators, providing wrap-around services for children and updating the state’s funding formula for schools to include technology. In response to a Georgia school re-instituting paddling as a punishment, Thornton stated, “My plan to bring wrap-around services and more mental health professionals will help Georgia schools progress rather than regress.”

Dr. Sonia Francis-Rolle is also running for State Superintendent as a write-in candidate. Francis-Rolle is a Republican and a past teacher in the DeKalb and Fulton County school systems. Francis-Rolle has pointed out that “the increasing need for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) require a great deal of flexibility for parents and educators to decide for themselves how to set goals for adequate progress.” Additionally, Francis-Rolle advocates for “statewide special education training” and “smaller class sizes for students with discipline challenges.”

Commissioner of Insurance
Candidates for Commissioner of InsuranceThe Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner oversees the insurance industry including life, car and medical insurance, as well as fire safety regulation. The current commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, is stepping down after eight years. Candidates will focus on Medicaid expansion, access to affordable healthcare and coverage for those with multiple diagnoses.

The Democratic nominee, Janice Laws, emigrated from Jamaica and has called Georgia home for 15 years. The owner of an insurance agency, Laws’ background lies within the realm of home, auto and life insurance. Laws has stated that her “first order of business” is to “address the cost of automobile insurance.” As for health insurance, her focus is on, “fraud and predatory insurance practices” that plague “seniors, veterans and other at-risk families.”

Laws is challenged by Republican party nominee Jim Beck. A Carrollton resident, Beck previously worked as the Deputy Insurance Commissioner and an insurance lobbyist. Beck’s priorities include increasing accessibility to the public by creating, “four rolling regional offices” and hosting telephone town halls to discuss potential rate increases. Other key components of his platform include “doubling the penalties on insurance companies guilty of victimizing” seniors and veterans.

The Libertarian candidate for Insurance Commissioner is Donnie Foster. A truck driver, Foster’s experience includes time in the US Army and as a deputy sheriff. His platform includes empowering local fire departments to approve home additions, lowering the minimum amount of auto and liability insurance coverage required by law, and repealing the requirement that, “all persons applying for a permit to the Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner” supply proof of legal residency.

Candidates for Secretary of StateSecretary of State
As for Secretary of State, incumbent Brian Kemp stepped down to run for Governor. This important office oversees many state activities, such as business licensing and elections. Candidates will focus on the challenges that 1.3 million Georgians with disabilities face when trying to have their voices heard in the election process. Specifically, accessible polling centers, easy-to-understand language on ballots and easy-to-follow absentee ballot eligibility requirements.

John Barrow is the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State. A former US congressman representing the 12th district in Georgia, Barrow calls Athens home. Barrow believes that the Secretary of State’s office is the, “most important office in Georgia that no one thinks about.” Barrow is a proponent of switching to a paper ballot system that uses optical scanners. Barrow is also vocal about the need for gerrymandering reform, citing his own personal experience as a congressman whose district was redrawn multiple times.

The Republican candidate is Brad Raffensperger. Calling Johns Creek home, Raffensperger is the CEO of a specialty engineering design firm. Raffensperger is a proponent of replacing income tax with a FairTax, where purchases are taxed as opposed to income. Other components include strengthening voter ID laws, reducing sex and drug trafficking and updating the voter system to include “paper ballot verification.”

The final candidate for Secretary of State is Smythe Duval. A Libertarian, Duval is a Marietta resident. A military veteran and registered nurse, Duval currently works as the IT director for a large medical practice. He advocates to adopt a ranked-choice voting system, allow same-day voter registration and to impose congressional term limits. Duval wants a reduction in barriers independent and minor party candidates face running for office and to eliminate gerrymandering.

Your Vote Counts!
Vote November 6, 2018

It is important to note that GCDD does not endorse any candidate and that the enclosed information encompasses only a small piece of a larger political platform for each candidate. We encourage you reach out to them with questions of your own – and to vote.

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


Download pdf version of Making a Difference Fall 2018    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Fall 2018

 

Public Policy for the People: Making a Difference Magazine Fall 2019

A Tribute to Dawn Alford

In July, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) unexpectedly said goodbye to an amazing, hard-working advocate for people with developmental disabilities.

Elizabeth Dawn Alford (known to her friends, family and colleagues as “Dawn”), GCDD’s Public Policy Director, left a legacy on disability rights and established strong long-lasting relationships with legislators and people across the state.

We heard from a lot of you – all over Georgia – who shared their memories and thoughts with us. GCDD wanted to honor Dawn and the impact that she made on agency leaders, legislators and families.Dawn w/Mary Margaret Oliver

“When Dawn was born and diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, her life expectancy was about 10 years. She was the MD poster child in 1984, met President Reagan and graduated as valedictorian from Temple High School and magna cum laude from Georgia Tech in chemical engineering. The Tech fight song was played at the end of her services as her heartbroken parents left their pews. She was a star everywhere she went, admired by all and fiercely determined to succeed on behalf of others.

[Advocates at the Capitol] do not always enjoy a positive image from the public, but Dawn made us all better people by her presence and advocacy... It is impossible to state how much she will be missed, and we all feel the painful gap from her absence in the work world of politics. May you rest in peace, Dawn, and thank you for your service.”  Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, Georgia District 82 

20180214 GCDD AdvocacyDay 31“We were saddened to hear this news! She was a great advocate and one of the first folks I met when I moved here who literally helped me understand “the ropes.” Our condolences to GCDD and her family.”  –David T. Wilber, Executive Director, Diversified Enterprises

“She will be missed but will be remembered as a champion for all those experiencing disability and for her dedication to her advocacy work.”  –Beate Sass, photographer

“Dawn was not only a subscriber of Georgia Lobby, but she was a friend that both Brooke Oakley and I enjoyed interacting with daily during session. Dawn worked hard with a heart for GCDD. Always a smile on her face and ready for the business of championing the cry of those with disabilities. Both Brooke and I will sorely miss her this coming session and we already do miss her now.”  – Pamela Adams and the Georgia Lobby Team

Tap Into Your Self-Advocacy Power!

October celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and this year, the theme is The Right Talent, Right Now.

And what better way to bring that message home than to announce the return of GCDD's Take Your Legislator to Work Day! And this year, we are putting the power in your hands!

The annual employment advocacy event provides an opportunity for employees with disabilities to invite their legislator(s) to visit them at work. It allows legislators and decision makers to see the far-reaching benefits to employers, employees and communities alike of hiring people with disabilities.

It’s also a great way to create opportunities for Georgians with disabilities to form and nurture relationships with their elected officials.

Here’s How You Can Take Your Legislator to Work! 

Schedule Your DIY (Do It Yourself) Visit

Plan Your Itinerary

  • Plan for a tour that should be approximately 30-45 minutes. Be sure to highlight where you work and what your job responsibilities are, and introduce the legislator to your co-workers.
  • If you work with a job coach, or receive another form of support, try to include that person in the conversation with the legislator.
  • Be sure to include your employer and available co-workers in the conversation, as their perspectives will be very important to the legislator.
  • Although it is important to include the co-workers, the job coach and the employer in the discussion, the visit should primarily focus on your experience as the employee.

On the Day of the Visit

  • Be on time to welcome your legislator.
  • Share with your legislator why they should support competitive, integrated employment, funding for waivers, Medicaid home and community-based services, Employment First and inclusive post-secondary education.

Share Your Story with GCDD!

  • You made the connection. You had the meeting. And now we want to know!
  • Take a few minutes to complete this form and upload your pictures. GCDD may contact you for further information about your visit for our next issue!

The Disability Vote Counts

Even though the nation’s focus is on the 2020 general election, there are elections happening this year too on November 5, 2019!

Across the state, local elections are happening from Gwinnett to DeKalb to Sumter counties and all across Georgia. These are as important as federal elections. Here, you vote for city council persons, school board members, and other officials that govern your local community. These local lawmakers are key to making sure that the town you call home is also working on behalf of people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Check your local newspapers to see if there are elections being held in your area or connect with your county liaison to find out more information.

The Disability Vote Counts! series is a finalist in Content Marketing Awards!

The 2018 Disability Vote Counts! series published in Making A Difference was a finalist in the 2019 Content Marketing Awards. The four-part series informed and educated people with disabilities about the midterm elections and candidates and also featured a guide to getting out the disability vote!

GCDD Header NDEAM 2019

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:

Download the pdf version of the Fall 2019 issue.

Download the large print version of the Fall 2019 issue.


 

Public Policy for the People: Making a Difference Magazine Spring 2018

Looking Back at the 2018 Georgia Legislative Session
by Hanna Rosenfeld, GCDD Planning & Policy Development Specialist

The first day of the 2018 legislative session was on Monday, January 8th. The last day, known as Sine Die, occurred on Thursday, March 29th. Indeed, they did not drop the gavel for the last time until a few minutes past midnight (technically very early on March 30).

2018 marks the end of the two-year legislative cycle in Georgia. While the bills from this past year's legislative session (2017) remained active in the 2018 legislative session, the slate will be wiped clean going forward into next year. That means that any bill that either did not pass or is vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal must be re-introduced in next year's legislative session (2019).

The Georgia General Assembly fulfilled its one constitutionally required task when it passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget (AFY18), the current fiscal year, and the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget (FY19), which begins July 1 and goes through June 30, 2019. The FY19 budget is comprised of $26.2 billion.

One pleasant surprise came in the last week of the legislative session when Governor Deal increased his revenue projections for the State of Georgia and recommended to the General Assembly that an additional $166.7 million be included to fully fund the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula for K-12 education in GA for the first time since 2002.

Other key priorities seen in the FY19 budget include: $100 million in transit bond funding; over $19.7 million for children's mental health programs; and over $7.5 million to address the opioid and other addiction epidemic that seems to be plaguing much of the United States.

The FY19 Budget currently sits on Governor Deal's desk, and he has up to 40 calendar days after Sine Die, or May 8, to act on any bill passed in GA. His options are to sign, to veto, or only in the case of the budget, do a line item veto.

We Love Medicaid:
This legislative session, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) focused on educating legislators about the importance of Medicaid in the lives of Georgians with disabilities. GCDD launched the "I Love Medicaid"GCDD AdvocacyDay campaign to remind legislators to protect Medicaid funding, especially for home and community-based services. We know that there are changes coming in the healthcare systems of Georgia and we want to be sure legislators fully understand how Georgians with disabilities rely on Medicaid when they make decisions.

One big healthcare decision came in the form of HB 769, sponsored by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), which creates the Rural Health System Innovation Center. The Center is tasked with researching, identifying and evaluating best practices for potential improvements for affordable healthcare in rural GA.

Another big change comes from SB 357, sponsored by Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), which creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council. This Council is tasked with identifying and promoting solutions to improve GA's healthcare system. While neither of these directly impact Medicaid, they both have the potential to create healthcare solutions in the future that might impact Medicaid.

Supported Employment:
GCDD advocated for an additional $4.8 million in dedicated long-term employment supports for Georgians with developmental disabilities who do not have a New Option Waiver (NOW) or Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP). Although this ask was not funded, GCDD remains committed to highlighting the importance of supported employment for individuals with disabilities.

GCDD is also excited about moving one step closer towards the State recognizing that competitive integrated employment should be the first and preferred option in the provision of publicly funded services for all working-age citizens with disabilities, regardless of the level of disability.

Spearheaded by the GA Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) and sponsored by Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarksville), HB 831 would create a 14-member Employment First Council comprised of state agencies, providers, individuals with disabilities, a family member and someone from the business community. The primary duty will be to study employment barriers for Georgians with disabilities and make policy recommendations to the Governor and GA General Assembly. Of importance, this bill does not create policy. It only creates the Council to make policy recommendations.

DD Waivers Waiting List:
The NOW and COMP Waivers continue to have the longest waiting list of all Medicaid Home and Community-Based waivers in GA. The waivers offer those who require an institutional level of care the option to receive those services in the community. As of March 9, 2018, there are 7,515 Georgians with developmental disabilities waiting for a NOW or COMP waiver. GCDD knows that for many of these Georgians, the need is urgent and they cannot wait any longer.

With the help of advocates, GCDD asked the GA General Assembly to fund 600 additional NOW and COMP waivers to make a small dent in the waiting list. This ask was based on Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities' (DBHDD) multi-year plan to address the waiting list in GA. While we were unsuccessful in our goal of 600, our advocacy retained Governor Deal's recommendation that 125 new NOW and COMP waivers be added to the budget at a cost of $3,138,073.

Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE):
IPSE programs provide opportunities for study beyond high school to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Currently, there are eight IPSE programs in GA and two are slated to open in the next year. IPSE programs prepare students to live increasingly independent lives, pursue careers of their choice, and provide the potential for increased earnings long term.

GCDD is the legislative lead for the GA Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC). Last year, the GA General Assembly brought the funding level of IPSE programs to $500,000 and transferred the funding, which was previously housed at GCDD, to the GVRA. The FY19 Budget maintained level funding and transferred the $500,000 in state funding back to GCDD.

Other FY19 Budget Highlights:
Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD)

  • $220,000 increase to the Albany Advocacy Resource Center to fund their pre-school program for children with disabilities
  • $6,000,000 increase for Behavioral Health Crisis Centers
  • $250,000 increase for the Matthew Reardon Center for Autism
  • $5,922,917 increase for crisis services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $266,119 in existing funds for telehealth services and three positions for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism

GA Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD)

  • $14,000 increase to fund an agricultural summer camp for youth with disabilities

Department of Community Health (DCH)

  • $894,519 increase for the electronic visit verification system for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS)
  • $847,962 increase to develop capacity for behavioral health services for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $962,022 in existing funds for increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities
  • Utilize $50,700 in existing funds for one program coordinator position for children under 21 with autism
  • $16,894,882 nursing home rate increase
  • $1,204,573 to increase personal needs allowance for nursing home residents by $15 per month
  • $399,670 to increase Adult Day Health Centers reimbursement rates
  • $1,000,000 to increase reimbursement rates for Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses in the Georgia Pediatric Program

Department of Public Health (DPH)

  • $100,000 to develop capacity for children under 21 with autism
  • Utilize $50,700 in existing funds for one program support coordinator position for children under 21 with autism
  • $399,005 increase to Emory Autism Contract l $1,103,716 increase for occupational, speech and physical therapy rates in the Babies Can't Wait Program
  • $119,922 increase to the Brain & Spinal Injury Trust Fund to reflect 2017 collections

GA Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) - within the Department of Human Services budget

  • $200,000 increase for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for Georgians with disabilities living in Southwest Georgia
  • $20,000 increase for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children equipment

Department of Community Affairs (DCA)

  • $100,000 to the Statewide Independent Living Council for home modifications

Bills That Passed:
HB 65: Creates a Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access to study in-state access to medical cannabis and THC oil, as well as adds PTSD and intractable pain as conditions that qualify for low THC oil usage. (Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon)
HB 635:  The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act - This bill allows for the creation of "Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Teams to coordinate the investigation of and responses to suspected instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation of disabled adults or elder persons." (Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta)
HB 740: Before a school can expel or suspend a student in PK-3 for more than five consecutive or cumulative days during a school year, the student must first receive a multi-tiered system of supports. If the student has an IEP or plan under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a meeting must be convened first before suspension/expulsion. (Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange)
HB 803: This bill defines the human trafficking of an adult with a disability or the elderly as a felony if the accused through "deception, coercion, exploitation or isolation, knowingly recruits, harbors, transports, provides or obtains by any means" an adult with a disability or elderly person "for the purpose of appropriating" their "resources" for their own benefit. (Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs)
HR 1257: House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings (Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah)
SB 118: Raises the age limit for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies to age 20. (Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford)
SB 370: Instructs the GA DCH to submit an amendment to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that waives any claim by Medicaid Estate Recovery on the first $25,000 in an individual's assets. (Rep. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa)
SB 406:  Georgia's Long-Term Care Background Check Program - This bill requires background checks of employees with direct access to patients in long-term care settings such as nursing, personal care homes, and home healthcare. It also creates the Central Caregiver Registry to allow employers to search for caregiver background checks. It allows family members who are employing caregivers for their loved one (age 65 or over) to obtain an employment eligibility determination from DCH for the applicant care-giver. This was a GA Council on Aging priority for 2018. (Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough).
SR 467: "Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons" (Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford)
SR 506: "Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community-Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services" (Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton)

Bills That Did NOT Pass:
HB 668: This bill would allow guardianship proceedings when an individual is 17 years old. (Rep. Betty Price, R-Roswell)
HB 768:  Proof to a Preponderance of the Evidence - This bill sought to address the issue of Georgians with intellectual disabilities being executed for capital crimes by introducing a pre-trial proceeding to determine intellectual disability with a clear and convincing standard, as well as a system to raise intellectual disability claims prior to the sentencing phase with a preponderance of the evidence standard. (Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners)
HB 891: This bill looks at discrimination that parents who are visually impaired or blind face in regard to child custody, adoption and visitation. (Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Garden City)
The GA Special Needs Scholarship(the SB10 waiver) was the topic of two bills this legislative session, HB 759 and HB 801. While neither passed, GCDD understands that a group of legislators will be working on this issue over the summer in a non-official study committee. We will keep you updated as we learn more!

NOTE: Governor Deal has until May 8th to sign or veto these bills. If Governor Deal chooses not to veto or not to sign, the bill will become law.
This is not a comprehensive list of all bills that passed during the GA General Assembly.

GCDD's Public Policy Team

  • Dawn Alford, GCDD Public Policy Director
  • Hanna Rosenfeld, GCDD Planning and Policy Development Specialist

2018 Advocacy Days

GCDD held its third Advocacy Days at the Capitol to empower advocates, families and the community to educate legislators about issues that affect people with disabilities across Georgia. There were six Advocacy Days covering DD Waivers, Employment, Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, UNLOCK! Coalition and Medicaid.

GCDD also kicked off its "I Love Medicaid" Campaign on February 14th (Medicaid Advocacy Day) to collect and share stories of why Medicaid is important for people with developmental disabilities. For more photos of Advocacy Days, visit https://gcdd.org/news-a-media/photos.html

GCDD thanks all the Georgia legislators who met with advocates during the legislative session. Here are just a few:

  • Senator John Albers (R-Roswell)
  • Representative Wayne Howard (D-Augusta) 
  • Senator Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta)
  • Senator Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:


Download pdf version of Making a Difference Spring 2018    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Spring 2018

 

 

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